Category Archives: Horror

Kilt – Finale

“I kind of lost it after that,” Paul said, slowly, softly running is fingers along the gauze that covered the stump of where his arm used to be. For all he knew his fist was still clicking away on that trigger in the belly of that thing. “I can’t tell you how I got away. I can’t tell you how I got to the hospital. You know what I know.”

“How do you feel?” Doctor Kernz said, setting his pen on his pad and lowering his pad to his lap.

“I feel…,” Kilt concentrated on the gauze and how the sensation of his touch felt against quiver of his new reality.

“Mister Kilt?”

Nothing.

Doctor Tarden Kernz breathed a deep sigh and slowly packed his things. Before he left, he patted Paul Kilt on the shoulder and moved out into the hallway. As he stepped down the hall, he clicked the speed dial on his phone and began making the arrangements to have his patient transferred to Starkton and finished by the time he reached the nurse’s station.

“Excuse me,” he said pulling up to the counter, “Nurse Pike, right?”

Amanda turned, “Yes?”

“Paul Kilt. We’ll be moving him to Starkton tomorrow.”

“Did he tell you what happened?”

“He told me what he believes happened.”

“Is he sticking with the big dog story?”

“I can’t discuss the specifics,” Kernz said signing his name at the bottom of Kilt’s chart.

“Will he be all right?”

Kernz looked at the nurse. “I believe he will. We may never know what really happened, at least until he decides to tell us. Our job is to make sure we get him headed in the right direction. At least to the point where he is no longer a danger to himself…or others.” He politely slid the file back to the nurse across the short expanse of the counter. “The long and the short of it is, we’ll just have to wait and see. It’s really up to him. He needs to find his truth and the courage to face it. Have a good evening.”

He gave her half a smile as he stepped away from the desk and walked to the elevator. What a day.

———————

Epilogue:

Tarden Kernz pulled his car to a stop at the end of the long driveway the led up to his house.

He lived on the farther edge of Cardington, probably as far as one could get before stepping into Blakewood County. He liked it that way. He liked to be close enough to his work in case of emergencies, but he treasured at least the perception of distance his set up allowed. The country road, the long driveway, the fair amount of trees that bordered the small lake, or large pond depending on how you look at it, all provided the illusion of serenity, solitude and distance.

He sat in the car for a moment, both reviewing and purging the day from his mind so that the evening belonged to him. The only work he brought home was the Kilt case, and that was just so he could make some additions to his notes before he had them transcribed for the official file.

He shut down the engine, popped open the car door, then scooped up the file and stepped a foot out onto the tarmac all in one movement. A moment later, he was out and heading for the front door. Without him looking, his fingers worked to single out the door key from the rest.

He grabbed a scent of freshness from the trees carried by the small breeze that moved past him, another item of note to further solidify why moving out here was such a great idea.

As he slid the key into the lock and the pins of the mechanism found their place, the crack of a branch rose up to his ears. It wasn’t out of the ordinary to hear such a noise. Not out here with the woods and all still, while he paused for the briefest moment, nothing felt as if it needed further exploration.

As he turned the key, a deep, low rumble reached out to him. Not so much a purr, it was bigger than that. It was more like..a growl?

His hand stopped on the key. His gaze, trained a second ago on the the lock and his hand slowly drifted up the side of the door and leveled off. If he were in front of a mirror, he’d be looking at himself now. His breath caught. His heartbeat seemed to slow as it moved from his chest to his ears.

He couldn’t place the next sound he heard behind him. There was no point of reference, but he imagined. It was close. It seemed…big.

His chest started to rise and fall with a heavy sense of urgency with each new breath.

The hand that held the key let go and dropped to his side.

The rumbling growl drifted closer.

Closing his eyes, he drew one deep breath to try and calm himself. He even tried to tell himself it was nothing and that he was being stupid, but the rest of his body resisted the notion of comfort.

He opened his eyes and slowly turned.

If Tarden Kernz had the luxury of telling his story of what happened next from a room set inside the safety of a hospital as Paul Kilt did, he could have said, that before the reality of his situation blew every circuit of his thinking mind, he could recall what looked like a dark, empty cave of blackness opening up before him. It came at him with a speed he couldn’t have imagined and the edge of the cave was lined with…teeth.

If…

Instead, there was no story to tell. The bits and pieces that were left of the doctor lay in a pool of drying blood. The folder filled with the notes and documents that detailed Paul Kilt’s experience, his horror, dropped to the ground with a flutter the instant the doctor ceased to be. A breeze kicked up working to move the pages away from the carnage. They blew and scattered across the driveway and into the trees to be lost forever.

Kilt – Part VI

Kilt lurched as the head swung down toward him again, aggressively pecking at the hole in the windshield of his newly smashed tuck like a bird eagerly picks at a bit of seed.

He stumbled through the open doorway and rolled out into the rain. Head groggy and still working to normalize his breathing, his brain screamed, “Move!” Eager to comply, he inched forward from a crab walk to a crawl, then moved from his knees to the first few steps of a feeble run. The wind whipped rain tore into his eyes.

Just run, he thought. Don’t look back! Don’t even dare! Just run!

And as if his head was incapable of comprehending the messages form the brain urging him on, he turned ever so slightly, just to see.

It might have been the storm, the sound of the beating of the rain, the wind or the bursts of thunder, but in the time it took for him to get this far, far enough for his head to feel safe enough to chance an ill-advised glance backward, the animal-thing was on him.

With a grunt, the massive head swung at him at pretty much the same time his look back was complete. The nothing but rain image changed in a blink to that of a large, scaled, wall of head that hit him with the force of a truck knocking him easily from his wavering stance. Entirely off his feet, he flew backwards and down onto to the soaking wet ground.

He worked to tuck and roll himself to the point where he might be able to get back to his feet and felt as if here were making progress the wall hit him again.

Once more Kilt left the ground, tossed backwards away from, and yet still firmly entrenched in the creature’s sphere of control. Pain seared across his back as he came to an abrupt stop. He slid down and stumbled away from the trunk of the tree that cut his flight short, but fell in a way that his feet found purchase in the grass and was able to stand.

Gasping again for breath and squinting into the rain, he grasped the crow bar with both hands.

“Well?” he screamed into the rain. “Where are you? Let’s go!”

It was a good count of three before a large shadow filled his field his vision. The thing moved toward him….slowly. Kilt almost expected a heavy thud to quiver across the earth with each foot fall, but there was none. It moved with what he might describe as a certain sense of elegance.

Without taking his hands from the crowbar, he tried once again to wipe some of the rain away by digging his face into his bicep. The creature growled long and slow before taking in a raspy breath and letting loose with a deafening roar.

As the roar trailed off, the head shot down at him, jaws still open and in fact widening as it turned to capture him. Kilt swung the crow bar and missed entirely, tossed by the rain and his churning adrenaline. The head pulled back a bit, turned and then shot down on him again, chomping closed just shy of catching Kilt’s jacket. He swung the crow bar again back the other, but caught the target in stead with his hands and arm which the heavy skin deflected quite easily.

Once again, the creature pulled its head back and spread its jaws wide as it shot down at the small, wet man. The jaws slammed shut shy of his leg. Stand ing firm, Paul raised the crow bar over his head and brought it down with everything he had.

Everything shifted, like the moment you know when you hit a homer over a line drive, everything felt…in the moment. The curved, clawed end of the crow bar found its mark and pierced the tough hide sinking down to what Paul was convinced was the certain uneasy scrape of metal against bone.

The animal-thing lurched back with a scream in its throat, carrying Paul and the crowbar with it. On the second shake the creature made to free himself of the stinging pain in its snout, Kilt lost his grip on the crow bar and again flew backwards and down into the wet, grassy muck below.

The creature, unable to reach the weapon with its short arms, snarled and shook its head.

Kilt hit the ground hard…again, and rolled to a stop as the water beat down upon him. Has he lay on his stomach fighting for breath without sucking water into his lungs, he felt the lump.

The gun.

The creature swung its giant head back and forth as the screams told the tale of its pain, frustration and anger. It shot it’s jaws down to the ground again and again, blindly searching for the thing that cause this.

Paul pulled himself to his feet and reached his hand into his pocket. He pulled out the pistol and took aim…as well as he could.

As the anger grew as a distraction to the pain, a new fire burst into the creature’s dark eye. Squeezing its eyelids shut and jerked its head in recoil. A roar tore from its throat that turned into a ragged scream. Rage took control, issuing simple and base commands.

The first shot landed square in the middle of the creature’s eye. He was sure of it. It was all he could to stop himself from doing his end zone victory dance, but there was no time for that. The thing was hurt, he thought, but not hurt bad, not dead. He fired again…missed.

The little flash of light was nearly missed but it was enough. The creature spun and trained its remaining good eye on the spot where the light came from and lunged.

The animal-thing cut through the rain in his direction with a speed he could never describe if all the words were his. Kilt fired again. Missed again.

Another small flash of light confirmed everything. The creature leapt forward as it opened its mighty jaws.

A cave of darkness, darkness surrounded by long, razor-sharp teeth opened before him. His eyes grew wide, then wider still as the cave and the teeth disappeared and with it the sight of his arm and the gun. Thinly connected lines of tissue sent impulses to the hand as it squeezed the trigger again and again. Muffled shots reached out to him from inside the closed mouth and while the louder shots ended, the hand kept pumping the trigger instinctively.

Click. Click. Click. Click.

 

Kilt – Part V

“At least,” Paul said slowly and pausing to run over it all…yet again, “I think they were teeth.”

For the first time since starting his story, Kilt looked away from the thumb that had been rubbing across his fingers, now so vigorously that he could feel an element of heat from the tips.

“That’s the look I was waiting for,” he said, forcing Kernz to break the stare to look down at his notepad. “Not just teeth, of course. They weren’t just hanging there. They were attached you know.”

“To what?” Kernz asked.

Paul sat for a moment. “I don’t know. To be dead honest, I don’t know what I saw, because my mind can’t get around it.”

“Take your time. Let’s start with what you think you saw.”

Paul turned his attention back to his fingers, back and forth. He drew a half a breath and said, “Dinos….”

After the first part of the word came out soft and difficult to hear, the second half faded into a whisper. He coughed.

“Dinosaur,” he said louder and with a touch more of commitment. “I believe I saw a dinosaur.”

“Good work,” Kernz said, “Now we are making progress. What ki…”

“If you ask me what kind of dinosaur,” Kilt cut in, “I won’t be held responsible. I don’t know what kind of dinosaur! I’m not some kind of pale, paleon, paleo…whateverthehellitis! I can’t even say with one hundred percent certainty and conviction that it was a dinosaur. Maybe Starkton is where I belong! But you asked. You wanted to help! And this is the news. Whatever I saw, my brain registered it as a dinosaur. Apparently, I hit it with my truck as it was going wherever dinosaurs go here in Cardington when the skies and the earth decide to open up and take giant shit on us!”

“I understand Mr. Kilt,” the doctor said in a trained and calming voice. “Really, I do. Based on your injury, it is certainly more possible that something like a dinosaur could take your arm before something like a dog could. Please trust me. We will get to the bottom of this. Take a moment, then tell me what happened next.”

Paul tilted his head pulling in hard, but steady breaths, and staring down at his working fingers.

“I have a gun…in my glove compartment,” he started up again. “I keep a pretty good sized crowbar under my seat. My head was…pounding. I was gasping for air after having the wind knocked out of me and maybe half my senses. The mouth seemed huge, but all I could really see was the teeth. They looked long and sharp and dripped…dripped with what I can only imagine was a mix of rainwater and saliva.”

“Go on.”

“I tried to calm myself down. Tried to get my breath. The thing roared again. I’m not sure if I hurt it or it was just pissed at the rain, or that it was lost or…I don’t know, but as soon as I got a breath I found myself screaming right back at it. That was a mistake. I have to remember that. The yelling and screaming and roaring or whatever…that was all about it…whatever it was. If it heard me, when it heard me…when the roaring stopped…”

“Yes?”

“That’s when it turned it’s attention to me.”

——-

The moment the last bit of scream escaped him, the animal, the thing, tilted it’s head in a way that brought an enormous eye to bare.

“Oh, Shit.”

He certainly experienced moments of panic in his life, some that even moved his heart to his throat, but this…was new. A super-panic seized him as all life around him seemed to slow to a cinematic crawl. He lurched over the passenger seat and pawed at the glove compartment, but all movement seemed slow, and well below the expectancy set by the fire of urgency in his head. The compartment door popped open releasing a shower of useless things he kept in there for emergencies, hand sanitizer, an old map of historic Boston, well outdated mints and aspirin. Even in full panic mode, a voice in his head declared that if we all live after this, we are taking the time to re-evaluate our definition of emergency.

He heard the gun topple to the floor. The pushed away the bits and pieces that followed after it and jammed it into his coat pocket.

The giant head of the animal-thing swung quickly down towards him, the nose scraping along the edge of the roof where bits of what was left of the windshield hung on for dear life. A cloud of hot breath moved over him bringing with it the smell of rancid meat and deep earth. A heavy gag jumped into his throat causing his shoulders to heave as he worked to hold back whatever he had in him that was suddenly and vigorously looking for a way out. He reached his hand under the passenger seat feeling across the mat until his fingers landed on steel. They gripped tight around the crowbar as he pulled it out, making a mental note not to hook it on anything.

A low rumbling growl pulled itself from within the beast and into rain reaching Kilt’s ears and igniting a new fire of urgency. With a speed unimaginable for its size, the mouth poked into the hole left by the windshield. It had no room to do its work effectively, but the jaws, the teeth, snapped open and shut as it reached for what might be inside.

“No!” Kilt heard himself say, almost as if it came from outside of himself. “No!”

He flopped over onto his back and kicked out at the thing as a new wave of nausea poured into his stomach every time his boot found purchased on the leathery hide. It felt like kicking an old sofa, a hungry old sofa.

The head pulled back, but for only a moment to re-evaluate and adjust before bobbing down for another try.

With what room he had, Kilt swung the crowbar out in front of him connecting with one of the long bayonet-like teeth with a sickening crack. The connection was enough to force it back. A new and more inspired roar burst from the animal-thing above him. He shifted himself again as quickly as he could to work the door handle. After pushing with no success he shot his feet out again and again until the door swung open.

The next moment unraveled itself into existence with a slow and overly deliberate pace. An electrical charge of hope surge through the man as he saw the pathway to his escape before him, He heard each breath. Each heartbeat throbbed within him as he turned to look at the animal-thing. The thing looked back at him. Paul looked back at the open door.

Time to go.

 

 

 

Kilt – Part IV

“Dammit.”

Kilt peered out into the darkness as the automatic doors opened wide to release him from the bountiful confines of Barner’s Groceries. The moment he stepped forward, the falling rain seemed to intensify, even more with the next step. He paused on third step, that one that would move him from the relative safety of the door’s overhang and into the brewing elements, as a gust of wind forced the rain at him, as if almost a warning.

“Shit.”

He turned his head back to the store just as the automatic doors closed behind him leaving him to stand alone in that moment of decision, back to the store or forward into…whatever this was.

As his brain began to weigh the pros and cons, the rest of his body was working toward the as yet to be realized decision. He shifted all three plastic bags into one hand, then grabbed the collar of his jacket with the other and pulled it over his head. Surely, he didn’t look as ridiculous as he felt. One deep breath later, he lunged into the downpour and made a break for the truck.

The wind and rain intensified still, blowing him sideways a bit and drenching him to the bone no more than three steps deep into the parking lot. He could see nothing. He heard only rain. He tried to move instinctively to where he thought the truck was parked and hoped he was right.

Two steps later, his brain sent out a single message, “Keys,” and the hand that held whatever protection he got from the jacket released it and plunged into his pocket. He felt for the fob and pressed what he knew to be the unlock button, squinting through the sheeting water to see a flicker of light from the truck’s tail lights.

There.

A quick course adjustment, three steps and a splash later and he was clawing at the door handle to get inside.

Once he slammed the door shut, he sat for a moment listening to his breath mingle with the sheets of wind driven rain blasting his windshield. He tried to wipe some of the water from his face, but really just pushed it around. Everything was soaked. He could end up sitting here all day, he thought, but he didn’t want to. Whatever he was feeling earlier in the day manifested itself in his head which throbbed now. Better to get home.

He put the key in the ignition and turned the engine over. He loved this truck. The dashboard blower started in earnest, working to remove the building condensation from the inside of the glass while the wipers slapped water away as fast and efficiently as it could…which ended up being not very good. He put the truck in reverse and backed out of his spot slowly. So far so good.

——

From what he could tell the roads were fairly deserted. And why wouldn’t they be? What kind of idiot drives in something like this?

Even on a fairly bad day, the trip to the store takes about 12 minutes, max, but Kilt, ever diligent in his desire to doing something stupid as safely as possible was determined to take his time. The wind began to add small branches, leaves and bits of garbage to the mix of rain it hurled at him, but he pressed on.

As he neared the left onto Crestview, the rain seemed to hiccup just long enough for him clearly see the sign and notice that the street was clear of anything he could run into. The brief reprieve allowed him to stop squinting long enough to realize how hard he was working to see…anything, and, how much his head was pounding.

“Note to self,” he muttered. “Get food before stupid storm hits.”

Taking advantage of the minor pause, he spun the wheel to take the turn. The rain returned the second the car banked around the corner and his visibility once again disappeared.

Typical.

He straightened the wheel, then raised his foot gently to press on the gas. If he had the ability to record the moment and review it over an over again, his story would stay the same. As he pressed the pedal to urge the car ahead, a blood curdling…scream, for lack of a better word, coincided with his movement as if he created it.

The noise tore into his head and in one movement, he slammed his eyes shut, slammed both feet onto his brake pedal and gripped his steering wheel to prevent his head from banging into it. The lurched into a skid that was not likely to occur on a dry street, but there was so much water, every movement was amplified.

Despite what he confirmed just before making the turn, that the street was clear, the sliding truck came to an almost immediate and jolting stop, the force of which drove his chest into his steering wheel, cutting his breath. Mixed with the sound of water and debris washing over him, came the sounds of grinding metal, breaking glass and something else.

“What the…”

Another roar tore through the air, causing him to cover his ears with his hands. His body lurched as he fought for a new fresh breath.

Another car? A tree? His aching brain seemed to spin in his skull. What could he have hit? God, let it not be another person…a kid or something!

The new noise, a soft grating, came up from the newly accordioned hood of his truck. As he gasped holding his chest, he blinked at the new batch of water hitting his face through the newly demolished windshield. Whatever it was, it was alive, and it was huge.

One more deafening roar later, and as if by premonition, he looked out into the storm, lightning flashed and he saw them as clear as anything for the first time…teeth.

Kilt – Part III

“Mister Kilt,” Dr. Kernz said with a certain level of matter of factness, “Paul, if I may. This is our third meeting. I can’t prove it of course, at least not yet, but it’s clear that you are not being one hundred percent forthcoming regarding the reality of your injury.”

Kilt looked down at it right hand and stared at the way he ran his thumb back and forth over his finger tips in a soft circular motion. If he had his other hand, he was sure he would have clasped all of his fingers together to accommodate his thumbs tapping each other gently in assured defiance, but his thumb tapping days were over for sure. And with that, some level of his confidence.

“As I explained in our first meeting, we need to figure out what exactly led to your injury. Your insistence that it was a dog, sounds, as we agreed, unlikely to impossible. I surely find it implausible. So if you expect to head back to your home upon your release, instead of a cozy room in the Starkton facility, I suggest we try to explore some new ground. It’s for your own good and the good of the community.” The doctor paused, “I’m here to help.”

Kilt jerked his head away from the oddly calming and near hypnotic thumb movement as if the doctor made a loud noise. His breath quickened as he caught the other man’s gaze.

“Help,” he said, nearly spitting out the p. “How will you help?”

“I…”

“You don’t believe my story. And if I tell you what I think really happened, at least how I remember it, I’m pretty sure you won’t believe that one either. So, it seems a stint in Starkton is probably inevitable. But since you’re so keen on ‘helping,’ I’ll give it to you, warts and all.”

The doctor silently leaned back in his chair, implying in part that he was happy enough to have reached this point. He waived his hand before him as a gesture to Kilt that he was welcome top proceed, please…go ahead.

Kilt swallowed hard, turning his gaze back to his thumb and fingers.

“It was a weird day to start with. I wasn’t feeling well and I’m never sick, but I was off enough to call off work for the day. The reports of a possible storm that evening started early as I recall, but I don’t think they had any idea what type of storm was heading our way.”

“What do you mean?,” Kernz broke in, “Type of storm.”

Paul nodded his head at the doctor as if to look, but kept his eyes trained on his thumb moving back and forth, back and forth. “Aren’t you from around here doctor? Couldn’t you feel it? This storm was going to be different. Different before it even got here. Most storms are stirred up by weather patterns controlled by Mother Nature to help her take care of her business. But this was no Mother Nature storm brewing. You could feel it in the air the closer it got. It wasn’t like electricity or anticipation. It was more like…dread.”

“Dread?”

“Yeah,” Paul said, not realizing how much harder his thumb was pressing against his fingertips. “Dread. Like Mother Nature stepped away for a moment and something else jumped in to steer the storm machine that day.”

“What kind of something?”

“Something…dark.”

“Go on.”

“The clouds…the storm system didn’t just roll in like most storms do. It crept in. It changed the air. It, it, didn’t cover the sun, it was more like it…absorbed the light causing the darkness to increase. And when it got here, it seemed to lock this town down as if it meant to stay a while. Even when the street lights went on, they seemed to have to fight to share enough light to hold back the darkness, at least until the power went out. Even my headlights had a hard time cutting into that blackness.”

“You weren’t home then?”

“No,” Paul said, watching his thumb move. “I was coming off some double shifts, so the cupboards were bare as they say. Even though I felt bad, I would have felt worse with no food in the house and I tend to think storms are better when accompanied by the welcomed comfort of a twelve pack. My plan was to skip to the grocery and get back before things got bad. I left my house just as the winds were picking up and damned if I couldn’t tell something was off the moment I stepped out of that house.”

“The dread?”

“Yeah…,” Kilt’s voice trailed off for a moment. “But not right away. Like I said the air felt…different. The moment I closed my front door, I don’t know if it was a smell or how thick the air seemed, but that first deep breath was nearly like a brick to the head. I had to steady myself for a moment before I moved to my truck.”

“What happened next?”

“Nothing, really. I brushed off the feeling because I didn’t really have anything to connect it to. I just wrote it all down as maybe being sicker than I thought. I got to Barner’s. I got what I needed. I paid and started to leave. In the short time that passed between entering the store to when I stepped on that pad to open the exit door, the light was gone. The darkness had taken over and it was just starting to rain.”

Kilt – Part I

Paul Kilt stumbled through the double glass doors of the emergency room, dizzy, no… light-headed, still moderately coherent…luckily, and clutching the plush towel over the end of his newly stumped left forearm. The lights, while flickering due to the growing storm outside, were still bright enough to make him squint as he took a deep breath and forged on toward the customer intake desk.

Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen steps to the welcomed support of the faux marble countertop and a certain measure of prevention from landing face first on the floor.

His counting steps was something he had done for as long as he could remember. His trying to keep his face from smacking the floor with any ferocity, and losing consciousness, was something he tried to keep from doing since college.

On sixteen, he hit the counter hard and leaned onto it with his full weight, puffing out  heavy bursts of air to match the effort. He let his head rest softly on the window as his breath splashed itself across the glass in small, temporary waves of condensation. His head swam. His arm throbbed. His legs quivered. He was sweating and shivering all at the same time as his resistance to giving into shock started to falter.

“Off the counter and on the line please.”

The voice was heavy, gritty, and colored by age, countless cigarettes, a measure of malt whiskey and fair amount of contempt for those she spent her eight-hour work shifts attending to.

“I’m sorry?” he muttered, still trying to catch his breath.

A burly hand reached across and slid the visitor window open with an air of authority.

“Incoming patients must stay off the glass, stay off the counter and stay on the line. We will get to you as soon as possible.” The hand then slid the glass pane shut.

Paul rolled his head along the glass to where he could see the floor, blurry, but still. “Ha!” he thought. There was a line of tape on the floor about a foot away from the counter. Go figure.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I would… love to step back to the line there…the one you have on the floor, really, I would. But I…”

The window slid open again, fast and loud. The business end of a clipboard emerged. “Due to the storm, our computer system is down. Complete the top portion of the information sheet remembering to add your full name, the name of your insurance carrier, insurance group number, family history, any allergies and what brings you to the emergency room tonight. Then have a seat and we will call you when we’re ready.”

He blinked hard to see the end of the clipboard that protruded from the glass partition. It hung in mid air, waiting for him to take it and his place among the others who had brought themselves here for an evening of gentle care and healing.

“Sir?” The floating clipboard jutted out a couple of times indicating a sense of urgency.

He looked down at the death grip his right hand had on the towel, grown damp now from the mix of rain and blood. His subtle laugh forced a tiny hiccup through his body which sent a fresh shiver of pain into his left arm. “Uh…,” he managed through the wince. “I can’t…I’m not really in a position to…”

The clipboard hung in the air for a moment longer and then, ever so slowly, receded back to disappear behind the glass.

“Name?” the gruff voice asked, but he heard it as “nay-MAH!”

“Paul”

“Middle initial?”

“T.”

“Last name.”

“Kilt.”

“Killed?”

“No, Kilt. K-I-L-T.”

“Like the dress.”

“No,” he shifted again, hoping to ease the throbbing coming from the wound. “And it’s not a dress. It’s a traditional garment worn by men dating back to the 16th century and originating in the Scottish Highlands.” He had explained his name so many times in response to the “dress” question that even in his debilitated state, it just rolled off his tongue.

The elongated pause that followed reflected what he was certain to be the deep soul-searching on the part of the emergency room representative as she considered whether or not she would take this any further because she, most assuredly, was not paid enough to “deal with this kinda shit.”

“Address,” complete with an exaggerated hiss of “sss.”

“67 North Algiers Drive, Cardington proper.”

“Phone number.”

His vision started to blur further, as his head grew heavy. The voice seemed to come from farther and farther away.

“Phone number,” the request came more stern this time.

“Three.”

“Excuse me? Ugh. Do you have your insurance card Mr. Kilt?”

“Forgot…to…grab it.”

Another pause allowed him to hear more clearly the pounding that was starting to build in his ears.”

“Reason for your visit this evening?”

This time, the pause was his. Not so much for payback as he was trying to stifle throwing up. “Bleeding…to…death,” he managed. “And…the allure…of…good company.”

“Cause of injury, Mr. Kilt.”

He tried hard not to laugh. It hurt too much. His eyes traced his surroundings back and forth as if he might never see anything ever again and he was taking it all in. He felt himself slipping away from the counter and into the nothingness that was both the air of the emergency room and the darkness of being unconscious. And in that very last moment of lucidity, he giggled, “dog bite.”

 

 

Boys – Part XII

The energy exchange of the transformation raged through his entire being and into the small human body. It was delicious. Already he could feel the a new sense of life as he forced his essence into the vessel.

Then, like a fast speeding car being tossed into reverse, he hitched. The energy flow crackled and popped in his head. His breath caught he gasped for more air.

The little body before him, began to seize. The legs shook and quivered up into the midsection causing a tremor up into his hands where he held the head firmly down to the altar. The connection allowed him to search, something he should have done before he started the transference, but he right sense fell victim to his eagerness, his growing weariness and the prospect of rejuvenation so close.

Through the connection, he saw concussion, broken bones, bleeding…injuries substantial enough that the transformation would only exacerbate the problems and make the new vessel a very short -term option, if now viable at all.

“AAAARGH!” He screamed, pulling his hands from the boy’s head and stumbling backwards. “He’s broken!”

Dizzy and gasping at breath, his eyes landed on the Calligar. “HE’S BROKEN!”

He reached out toward the beast from the depths, the one who secured the vessel to begin with and who stood by to protect them both and ensure the transformation was completed. His arm shook as it flexed with power that rippled down to his clenching fist and he released it at the creature who exploded into flame and ash, once mighty and powerful, now pushed back down into the earth by pounding droplets of rain.

He stumbled again with a rage so thick and complete that he saw little else but more fire. He swung an arm backward knocking the altar askew and sending the once to be great host to the ground and back into the mud.

Broken. Human. Filth!

He reached down for the boy with the intent of tearing him into oh, so many parts and pieces. The boy struggled to move, propping himself up onto his elbows in a lackluster effort to crawl away to safety.

He reached down to exact the punishment for being broken when a scream came from the darkness.

In a full-out sprint, Taddy screamed from the moment he pushed away from the side of the house to the moment he leapt at the creature. It was all his brain would allow. It was everything he needed to express.

With the kitchen knife held tight in both hands held high above his head, he jumped and swung the knife down in one fluid motion, catching the red flesh of the beast and sinking the blade deep and to the hilt.

The beast raised his arm and howled as much from shock and surprise as from pain. What is this? And, how dare he?

Breathing hard Taddy, held on to the knife handle for dear life. There was no plan. At least nothing beyond getting Gunther and getting him to safety…whatever that meant.

He felt himself being lifted from the ground and brought to dangle in front of the beast’s eyes.

“What is this?”

“Let him go,” Taddy yelled, strong even though he realized he has started to cry. “Let him go! Leave him alone!”

The beast shook his arm once, then twice before the boy fell free and scurried across the ground to where his friend lay in the mud. He reached over with his hand and plucked the knife from his forearm. He turned it before him to assess the weapon this new boy had come to fight with and found it woefully underwhelming.

“This boy,” the beast said, his voice dark and filled with gravel. “He is your…’friend?'”

Taddy nodded aggressively, while backing closer to Gunther who was still trying to crawl away.

“And you wish to…’save’ him?”

Taddy nodded again, stirring his courage and wiping at his nose with his arm.

“With…this?” The beast flicked the knife at the boy, who scuttled away to avoid being hit as it landed in the dirt at his feet.

The boy looked down at knife. The blade glowed with reflection of the orange light still beaming up from the hole in the earth. It looked so very small. So much smaller than he ever imagined. Slowly he traced his vision up from the knife and into the eyes of the new beast. His heart beat filled his chest as if it too were trying to escape. Slowly the air slipped out of his lungs. His shoulders dropped as his hands clenched into the grass.

Shit.