Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Locals Don't Seem Friendly

The house was old and even the stones were crumbling, but it couldn't be torn down. The realtor - a young man, new to the game - knew that, but it was hard to avoid when even touching a wall would cause a few stones to fall out. But when he complained to the owner, the old man just asked: "You want to know why we can't tear it down?" The realtor had nodded. So the old man lifted his foot and stomped a hole in the wall.

Darkness took them both.

The town was a backwater nowhere in the mountains of Tennessee, a nothing stop along an obscure highway. They wouldn't have stopped there if they hadn't need gas and wanted food. They wouldn't have stayed if they hadn't emerged from the town's sole restaurant to find that someone had poked holes in the tires on their Jeep. They still might have left, except that Brian wandered off "to look at the scenery" and didn't come back. Then Tara disappeared while they were looking for Brian, and when the others met back at the truck they found that someone had keyed the paint, badly.

The locals were sullen and taciturn, and didn't answer questions except to say that they hadn't seen the missing couple, and hadn't seen anything strange. Then one of the local kids, not much younger than the college kids, said he thought that maybe their friend had gone to see the old house. The locals avoided the house, he told them, but he'd been poking around nearby and offered to take them to it. So the others went with the townie, and Michael went to the bank to ask about his missing friends and the house.

The bank manager was friendly enough, but his answers were politely evasive and his patience grew strained when Michael kept asking questions. When Michael casually asked about the old house that they'd spotted on the way into town, the manager's patience finally snapped. "You want to know what's going on?" he asked. Michael nodded firmly: of course he did.

That was when the manager's face began to change.

He had turned slightly away, and when he turned back his eyes were golden, with a double set of pupils and irises. His cheekbones bulged and pulsed, expanding as if something inside were inflating them. Then his whole face swelled, and his jawline dropped as short, wrinkled pseudopods flopped down from it. Watching this performance, Michael was suddenly convinced that it wasn't just that the man's flesh was changing: it was that something else was pushing in through him, using his body as a doorway from somewhere horribly outside. He turned and went out the door, but the manager followed. The man was still changing, and now he was reaching for Michael as well.

There were rocks in the parking lot: big chunks of fieldstone that served as parking stops. Desperate, Michael threw the manager down and smashed his head against one of them until the top of the man's head - now weirdly soft - sliced off against a sharp edge. The manager shivered once, and then lay still.

Then the rest of the group returned. The town kid was still with them, with the rest of the town - or whatever the rest of the town was now becoming - chasing them. That was when the fighting began.

In the end, they dug a pit and burned all the bodies... but even after throwing the last arm into the flames himself, Michael couldn't shake the feeling that it wasn't over yet.

Yeah, I have weird - and weirdly narrative - dreams.


  1. I hope you get a follow-up dream to this one sometime that tells you what happens next. What an interesting world.


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