The Others

Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom, categorizes beasts into one of two fields; prey and predator. The circle of life continues endlessly, uninterrupted and uncaring of the path taken; birth, life, death. It is a simplistic way of describing a complex situation at the very least.

However…what of the darker side of existence in general? What of those dark, dank corners that we are all certain at one point in our lives holds the deepest, darkest horrors that our minds could conceive? That, my friends, is where this little tale opens the rusted gates from the garden of dreams and starts us on the path toward the crazed maze of being that is… “The Others”.

The sounds of dripping permeated the heavy blanket of unconsciousness, brought the faint workings of the mind to register the pattern first as such, then as a passage of time, and finally the recognition that what had brought out the state of mind to begin with had been real. The sudden swell of breathing, harsh and ragged in its explosion of air, almost drowned out the pattern that had brought my mind into the reeling sensation of being thrown from a bull in the middle of a ring.


I struggled with the realization of the reality I had found myself in as much as I struggled to calm the gulping, almost wheezing of my lungs. I sounded like an asthmatic that had sucked in a face full of flour and couldn’t catch his breath. The panic that screamed at me to get as silent as possible as quick as possible gripped my skull in a vice; which actually worked in my favor, I think. Two minutes, maybe more and I had the wheezing down to an almost quiet sounding set of gasps. Next it would be the mental check-list; can I move? Am I inside, or outside? What am I lying on? Can I hear anything else?

I’m not tied down, or gagged obviously, or up against anything. I can move, nothing seemed to be broken that I can tell so far. I have no idea what I’m lying on, or in…I can’t tell if I am inside a building or cave at this point. It is as dark as if I was born blind where I am; the only sounds I can hear are my breathing and that blasted dripping somewhere to my left. A reach of my right hand found a wall of sorts, cold and made of a smooth stone. So I could be…where?

Which brought my mind to the next set of logical questions as I lay there and listened to my heart as it hammered behind my ribs, the water, and my breathing; Where was I to begin with? How did I get here? Where the hell am I?

I left the cold stone behind and worked my hands over my chest, taking stock of what was in the pockets I could get to without rolling over. The Zippo was there, my half-gone pack of Reds, my wallet, and my car and house keys. My pocket check of my pants revealed a few pieces of paper, some change and a realization that my cell phone was missing. I bit off the swearing into a snarl, just in case. Great.

Okay. No pain, there’s one wall I can feel to my right-it was time to find out about my surroundings if possible. I felt around the area I was lying on as far as I was able to without moving. Seemed like tiled, stone floor; possibly the same stone as the wall I had found. A few seconds more of easing my legs around and I got the general idea I was on the floor; which had me come to a decision.

I’m not going to be snacked on by no freakin’ rats.

The Zippo came out of my pocket with the flair of sparks, the sound of metal grinding metal and the glorious, beautiful glow of flame. What I got to see out of that light damn near had me put it back.

I was in a hallway (which is better than a cell, right?) that I couldn’t see either end of from where I sat. The hallway was wider than I am tall, I think-I’m 6 foot 3. Stone was cut into different shaped squares for the floor and walls that had some rather disgusting looking, rusted water run down and pool here and there down the hall; although the ceiling I couldn’t see either, I had no idea what was up there, or how high it went. There were rats, as I thought, that skittered like frightened roaches along the debris of broken stone, pieces of wood and oddly enough what looked like rotted fabric piled here and there along the walls. I had to stare for a full minute before I realized something that had me have a “Hmm” moment. The rats weren’t skittering away from me. They were skittering toward me.

What the hell could have … twenty or thirty… rats (at least) running for the light and a human as if hell itself were on their heels? Did I really want to sit there and find out? My answers: I don’t know. I do know that I sure as hell don’t want to find out.

So, between me finally being able to get upright and standing and not stepping on those nasty little buggers I noticed one other little detail. Something that I know damn well I would have noticed before if it had been there to begin with…the smell. It started off as a tease. Something that you pause to actually try to catch a second whiff of because you just can’t believe the complete and utter disgust the first one rose in your gut. It was that smell that overpowers, overcomes, and overwhelms you before you even realize what the hell it is or where it came from. All you want to do is just get the hell away from it-period. It took me one minute of the choking gagging and tear-filled squint down the hall from where the rats came from before I decided I was going to actually follow them in that direction of the hall. That stench came from the direction they were running from.

By now the Zippo burnt my palm; I had to shut the lid. I had to put that damn thing into my jacket pocket; it was too hot to put into my jeans. One hand against the wall, and I moved as fast as I could in the opposite direction from where the smell and the rats came from. It seemed like forever, it was probably no more than three or four minutes before I slammed face first into something. Something made of a different stone than the wall, something that stuck OUT of the wall, and something that was taller than I was. I could put my hand over the top corner of this thing, and noticed it had two up above my head. I used my foot to gauge where I moved…and circumvented whatever this was. It was a box…a stone box- In the middle of the damn hallway? Propped up against the wall like some delivery that had been made who knows when. Cobwebs, debris, and a dead rat were on top of this thing.

It was when my hand slid down over what I assumed was the face of this box that I froze. There was a hole in the panel, large enough for me to shove my hand into it and find out what exactly was inside this damn thing. Temptation-lead me not to it, I can find it on my own? Check.

I almost, almost did. Why, you ask, didn’t I give in and just go on and find out what was inside of it? Because of the …sounds.

The sounds behind me, from where that stench came from, suddenly registered to my curious brain. The stench was still there, really. Hell, it seeped into my damn pores, hair and clothes-I knew this already. It was like a cross between advanced decomp, a landfill in the middle of July, and a compost manufacturing plant rolled into one and sandblasted into your face. Hard to forget, but for a split second, I did it. The sounds, however, pulled me right back into the moment of “Run, fool, run” and that stench.

Gagging again, I patted the Zippo to check to see how hot it was before pulling it out. The grate of metal to metal again lightened my heart as the flames burst into being and the golden, glorious glow revealed to me what I had been pawing. It revealed to me, unfortunately, what was inside it as well through that damned hole I had thought of shoving my hand into. The grinning, decomposed and still slightly oozing corpse gave a silent scream from the dark recess of the tomb I shoved away from. Thankfully without de-manning myself with a frightened little girl scream that clawed from the depths of my throat to be let free and given life. Back to heaving my breathing went, taking that assbaconfish stench right back into my lungs with a fervor.

The hurried back-peddling I did to get away from that, had me back-slam into the wall at the other end of the hallway. A wall that wasn’t a wall I found out when I turned to check-again, just in case. It was another tomb. I took a look down the hall I was scrambling down to get away from that stench…and somewhere between the shakings of my hand and the slow, tight blinks I forced to focus my sight I caught sight of more. Dozens more. Dozens of tombs that were stood on end to line both sides of this hallway as far as I could see… both ways. As much as I didn’t want to look back the way I came and from where that stench came but it was something I just hadta do.

It was that look that brought out that little girl scream from the depths of my toes that clawed and crawled through my throat earlier that I refused to let free. This time, it was free and gloriously happy about that fact. In fact it was so happy about it that three more of those screams followed right along behind the first before I took off at a dead run. RIGHT down the hallway of freaking death to wherever the hell it led too; because in my mind-it had to be better than what was coming my way. There had to be a door…somewhere. There had to be a sewer grate, a window, hell an empty sarcophagus, anything.

Those sounds behind me quickened when I took off. A combination of moist, thick slaps of heavy flesh against stone, a harsh and ragged set of sounds of something …sharp…being drug over the floor, there was something close to the sound of a huge vat of Jell-O being shaken, and several different others that I don’t even have the comparison to give. It was as if Hell itself decided to have a cock-tail hour, and invited me to be the freakin’ olive in the “Drink of the Hour”.

This…thing…took up almost the entire hallway behind me. It was like the Devil himself took a few animals, a couple of humans, a truck-load of lime and cranberry Jell-O mix, slapped all of it into a blender and mixed-poured-viola! The thing. I think I counted at least four eyes…animal and human that I could tell. There was a large, open maw of a mouth at the front (or what I think was the front?) that gaped a shark’s set of razor looking teeth at me. The stench of rotted and putrid flesh came with this thing, you could almost see it wafting off of it’s corpse colored and slime coated skin. There was a hand pulling it forward, digging broken claws into the stone to help heft some of the massive weight of this nightmare down the hallway. A few tentacles…tentacles…reached further, using periodic tombs for leverage in the same way. The dragging sounds I heard, when this thing heaved its gelatinous mound of mixed parts in one particularly strong movement-was from a set of mouths that I caught glimpse of before I took off myself. Those mouths had broken, ragged teeth; bloodied with a few of them being ripped out in this and leaving a trail behind no doubt for more to follow?

Go me.

The hallway started to slant downwards, which gave me two emotions. Happy; because for me I don’t mind running downhill in the least bit. Fear; because I’m guessing that thing wouldn’t have to work quite as hard with gravity helping its mountainous ugly self down the hall after me. I stepped up the pace, left any sort of idea of sticking around for a meet and greet behind me and went with it. I went with it well enough that I totally missed the sudden turn and crammed face into wall and shot all thoughts of breathing out of my head and chest before I ended up slumped up against it and onto the floor. Which, evidently, rang dinner bells with Ugly because the sounds stepped up a few notches as soon as I did.

The sudden flare of light blinded me, but I’d be damned if I was going to loose an opportunity out of that hall. I scrambled on all fours, whatever I had to do I did to get to where that light was. Up and over a broken and fallen tomb, I think I cracked a few bones that had spilled out of the thing when it fell. It was that sudden, split-second and knee-jerk reaction that had me move, inside, and had the door slammed shut behind me with my back against it in about three seconds flat.

Now-I can breathe. Oxygen is my friend. Holy freaking hell, I wanna go home.

When I opened my eyes again-I had to send a thank you up above even as my eyes adjusted to the light wherever I ended up at. What I caught sight of had me hold my breath and stare like a little kid that just walked in on Mom and Dad “Wrestling” in the middle of the night. Nothing that disturbing, mind you, rather that memorable. This had to have been the best carved, most realistic looking statue I had ever seen. I was absolutely amazed at the detail work; from the indent and curve of lips all the way down to the bend of skin and curve of nails at the hand that seemed to prop the statue’s chin in the slightly bent pose the craftsman put this in. I have no idea where the hair came from, but… expensive was all I could think of. Not that the statue itself wouldn’t have been, where the hell is anyone going to get that much alabaster, and almost pure white to top it off? There were faint veins here and there, but the craftsman even put those to use to appear to be where they’d belong on a person. From the details on the model, to the fact that the wig used seemed to gleam of its own accord, to the exacting and expensive detail work on this thing’s clothing…I was stunned.

I was stunned stupid when this thing smiled at me.

You know that growing fear that you get when you’re five and the closet monster that you know for sure is out to get you opens up that door your father just closed a few minutes ago? That cold, clammy, heart hammering, gut wrenching, mind-blowing fear that has everything inside of you fall down into that pit of despair in a pure, unadulterated moment of “I knew I shoulda stayed the hell at home”?

Color that me. Between this here, that behind me? I’m screwed seven ways from Sunday.

“I see you’ve met the Others, mon ami. I am quite curious to know of your opinion of them.”

That voice…That voice was something you just didn’t hear, you felt. It was like someone running their fingers over my spine, up over the back of my neck. It was a touchable voice, one that was heavily accented and drew you directly into it. I had already stepped away from the door, to get nearer to this seemingly living statue of alabaster at the sound of his voice. It spoke French, evidently…though the accent I knew wasn’t close to that. Something like German, or perhaps Czech, maybe Romanian. It’s odd, how stupid things like that stick in your mind when there’s something that itched and clawed at the very door I had just been leaning against. The words came, and then the smile followed.

Not mine. His.

I didn’t think this was really all that funny, honestly.

“I don’t know what the fuck that is, or where I am, or what the fuck you are; but I know I want the fuck out-Now.”

I had no small amount of satisfaction with the loss of amusement off of the guy’s face at that. I was rather pleased, honestly.

The way the guy straightened out of that lean reminded me uneasily of some sort of reptile. He moved in a smooth, un-hurried, in control and pure predatory motion that had my proverbial hackles along with the hair on my arms lift in instinctual warning. As if that thing behind the door behind me wasn’t enough, now this? I was half tempted to tuck tail and run right back into that rolling horror in lieu of tip-toeing through the tulips with this guy.

All he did was gesture after standing, something between an Italian ‘get outta here’ and a magician’s flourish, and the resulting sound had every hair on my body come to attention that hadn’t already started to do so at that stand. Somehow…that ‘gesture’ opened the damn door behind me. I think I pissed Mr. Statue off.

“Certes, mon ami. You may leave as you came-Through the hall. Do not struggle, it only incites them; the Others prefer their dinners…screaming.”

I would have loved to have wiped off that smile that appeared on his face, smug and self-centered, however I was a bit busy with the idea of one of those thick tentacles suddenly finding both of my legs as a grab-a-hold and a way to pull me back into the hall and face first on the floor.

I was a bit busy with the screams as I felt myself tugged back for the door, beating on the tentacle wrapped around my legs before another one found one of my flailing arms. I was a bit busy with trying to claw my free hand against the door that had been opened to let this hell through to snatch me out of the room like a vulture in the middle of a carrion fest. I was a bit busy listening to the clattering, clacking teeth in however many mouths this thing sported snap together in eager and hungry anticipation of fresh meat-again, an odd thought. It kinda sounded like a German Shepard ‘gatoring’ someone; A few of them, actually.

I was a bit busy with the sounds of them growing louder, and the sudden, intense and agonizing sensation of two of those mouths that attached themselves to my calf to rip it apart; the visual? Turkey leg on Thanksgiving, man. Of course, I was a bit busy with more screaming-mindless and agonized screaming.

…You know. Some days…It doesn’t pay to roll outta the grave.

The Others


Nada, United States

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Artist's Description

A short story based on a contest and the letter “O”.

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  • Damian
  • DarwinsMishap
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