Twice the Chill
Two Short Horror Stories
By Rachel A Olson
Copyright © 2016 Rachel A Olson
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written consent of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
Layout and design by No Sweat Graphics by Rachel A Olson
This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this novel are fictitious and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead are entirely coincidental.
“I hate the dark.”
“Because you can’t see what’s in it.”
Bey laughed loudly. Chensei had always been a bit ridiculous with her superstitions and he had always tolerated them, but he wasn’t in the mood. “Have you seen anything that would give you reason to believe you need to see what’s in the dark?” he asked her almost bitterly. Chensei stopped walking momentarily as if she couldn’t think and walk at the same time. Bey rolled his eyes.
“Well, no I guess not.”
“Then there’s no reason to hate the dark.” Bey continued on, not really caring if his sister followed suit.
“Perhaps,” she said, quickly coming up next to him again. “But I can’t stop hating it just because you said I should.” Bey let out a loud huff before clamping his mouth shut. He’d promised to stop being so mean, promised to find a way to release his anger some other way. He really did love his sister, but he couldn’t wait for her to grow out of her teenage stupidity.
They walked on in silence. If nothing else, Chensei was at least able to tell when Bey was annoyed, and knew it was time to shut up. Bey watched out of the corner of his eye as his sister continuously rubbed her hands up and down the length of her arms. If he hadn’t known better, he’d have thought she were cold. But it was nearly 75 degrees out. No, it wasn’t a chill. It was fear. Stupid, pointless fear.
Bey shook his head, growing even more irritated. The closer they got to the woods, the closer Chensei walked next to him. If she got much closer, she was likely to trip them both up. As soon as they broke through the threshold of the forest, an owl made his presence known. Chensei squeaked, jumping so high she nearly hit her head on a branch. Her hair tangled in some leaves immediately after, and she let out another shriek that had Bey laughing hysterically.
“Jesus, Chen, you’re just a little puss.” A small sting shot through his arm when she punched him. He smiled evilly as she glared at him. Bey took his pace up a notch, leaving Chensei a few steps behind. She whimpered, uttering something under her breath that compared her brother to a donkey.
Several minutes passed and the only sound came from the crunching gravel underfoot. A small bird or rodent scurried away on occasion as they trudged along. It would only be a few minutes before they reached home. They could even see the lights in the distance that their mother left on for them.
Bey’s heart rate increased as he neared the edge of the forest. Only ten more feet and he could break free, run like the wind away from his obnoxious sister and into the quiet confinement of home. He heard the crunching underfoot increase as he quickened his pace. Chensei’s increased as well as she struggled to keep up. Bey nearly broke into a jog, grinning at himself, nearly enjoying the torture he knew he was dishing out on his sister.
And then there was silence. Not completely so, but the number of footsteps decreased by half. Bey frowned, slowing his pace until he stopped. He turned around, ready to curse at Chensei for piddling about, but she wasn’t there. He spun in a slow circle, squinting into the blackness between the surrounding trees.
“C’mon Chen, I want to get home.” He continued his slow spin, looking for any slight movement out of his peripherals, but there was nothing. He felt something flutter inside his stomach; a nervous, foreboding feeling. “Damnit Chensei, this isn’t funny!” he yelled at the woods behind him. He stopped and listened, noting he was literally only a hop, skip, and jump away from home if he needed to get to safety quickly. Mom had a shotgun stashed away in her room. They would be safe.
Twenty feet back into the forest, a whimper got loose from behind a large cedar. Bey squinted until his eyes were nothing more than slits. He swore under his breath, almost certain he saw fingers clawing at the dirt at the base of the tree. His insides turned into a black hole as his heart rate burst into an erratic, thundering pace. He stepped forward tentatively, quickly checking his surroundings for other movement. His lower eyelid twitched with nervousness, a slow burning sickness bubbling up inside him. When he felt satisfied that there was nothing dangerously near, he scurried ahead toward what he was sure was his sister. His heart thumped loudly in his ears, adrenaline making him quiver, ruining any attempt he made to appear strong.
Bey was only a few steps away, but he paused, listening to his surroundings again. Another whimper seeped out of the darkness behind the old tree. Bey knew the sound in his sleep. His sister was a cryer. He bolted forward, grabbing up the hands he could plainly see in the waning moonlight. He pulled swiftly, hoping to pull her out of whatever had dragged her in. He pulled and yanked until he heard a wet popping and something broke loose with a sickening slap. Bey found himself on his back, a warm spatter landing on his face. He sat up quickly, looking down at the hands he still held onto. Hands that came with him, but left the rest of her behind. Hands much too warm against his palms.
Bey scurried away from his sister’s dismembered hands, quickly wiping at his face. He knew what was there, but couldn’t believe it, didn’t want to. Crimson fluid transferred to his clammy skin. He gagged as he stood, desperately searching for something he could use as a weapon. With tremulous hands, Bey grabbed up a pointed branch that had been broken underfoot, and held it out in front of him as he pressed his back up against the trunk of a tree on the other side of the walking path. He tried to calm himself, but his eyes kept drifting to the decapitated body parts he’d pulled from the darkness. He looked toward the house, wondering if his mom would hear him if he screamed. He thought about Chensei, and understood instantly her fear of the dark. A fear that had become incredibly real to him. He wanted to run, wanted to scream, wanted to cry. He couldn’t think straight, couldn’t figure out what he should do. His fight or flight mechanism no longer existed. He watched in terror as the color quickly began to drain from the tips of his sister’s fingers.
A low, rumbling laughter spilled out from behind the cedar tree across from where Bey attempted to hold his ground. It grew louder, intermixing with more wet popping and slapping sounds. Bey listened closely, though it made his stomach churn angrily. He heard what could only be compared to chewing before another tearing sound echoed throughout the empty space between the trees. Bey gagged repeatedly, repulsed by the thought that something was eating Chensei. Another bout of laughter erupted and then he heard leaves crunching underfoot. Bey held up his pointed stick, his entire body shaking uncontrollably as a figure slowly surfaced at the edge of the treeline, near the walking path.
“What have you done with my sister?” Bey shouted. “Who are you? What are you?” Bey paused a moment, stricken to silence by the realisation that it was definitely a “who” instead of a “what”. He was only answered with more laughter, loud and clear unlike before. Ever so slowly, a woman stepped forward, her head bowed to the ground. Her hair was matted with blood, her clothes torn and disheveled. She laughed again, throwing her head back as she practically howled at the moon. Red dripped from her mouth, spattering the dirt at her bare feet. Slowly, she lowered her gaze on a petrified Bey, licking her lips as she took every inch of him in.
Bey couldn’t move. His eyes betrayed him. It wasn’t logically possible. A single tear rolled down his ashen face as he dropped his only source of protection. The woman stepped forward, only stopping when she was inches from Bey’s face. She inhaled deeply, taking in the scent of fear the pulsated off of him. She licked a wet, blood coated line from his collarbone to his earlobe, moaning in anticipation. Bey let out a strangled cry, painfully pushing his back into the trunk of the tree.
Death. It’s the end of the line. Everyone knows it’s coming, yet so few actually think about what happens after. I know I spent my life too concerned about myself in the present. I didn’t have time to worry about the after.
Of course once I found myself in the afterlife, I had more than enough time to think about it. Especially while I gorged myself on freshly disemboweled organs. Often I wondered what I’d done so wrong during life to deserve the fate I was dealt. After several uncontrollable bouts of violence and enough blood and guts to make a strong man weep like a baby, I’d come to the conclusion it really didn’t matter.
I had barely turned eighteen years of age when I met Eugene. He was a few years older, which made him attractive all on its own. But what really caught my eye was the way he walked. He’d enter a room and every female head would turn and swoon. I tried desperately not to be one of those girls. My mother raised me as best a strong Christian woman could. What she failed in my father beat into me. He would always say that sometimes a young girl just needs the fear of God beaten into her. Truth be told, I think he enjoyed doing it. Eugene made me forget everything my parents ever taught me in a single glance.
I swallowed a mouthful, wiping a bloody hand across my mouth. Human innards didn’t really taste like much. Maybe that was due to the fact that I was dead. But the warmth, the steaming heat that slid all the way down with each desperate swallow, was enough to make a grown Pontianak lose control.
Pontianak. That’s what they called me. I’m sure there were several names, but that one seemed most fitting. I smeared a stained finger across my nose to scratch an itch that wasn’t really there, staring down at the poor John Doe I’d maimed. I shoveled another long string of unidentifiable entrails into my mouth, remembering my only real encounter with Eugene.
I had snuck out with Anna, my best friend, stealing away to a party my father had forbidden me to attend. Eugene always went to the local parties, and I just knew that night was going to be a special one. Anna didn’t stay by my side for long. She wasn’t afraid to socialize like I was. As soon as I caught sight of Eugene, I made my way to his side of the dance floor, but still stayed hidden in the background. Not that it mattered. Within moments, he slid through the crowd until he stood directly in front of me.
“Why do you hide in the back?” he asked plainly. I know I blushed instantly, and I couldn’t look him in the face.
“I’m shy,” I managed to utter. I heard him laugh lightly, leaning in until I could feel his breath on my ear.
“Then I shall take you away from all the eyes,” he practically whispered. His touch was incredibly warm as he took my hand and quietly led me out a back entrance. Considering nearly every young girl at that party had attended simply to try to win a chance with him, it was a miracle that we made it out unseen.
Not far from the ballroom, Eugene led me into a dark hallway. I kept one hand out as it was too dark to see anything. Suddenly, I was jerked to the side into a small pantry of sorts, illuminated by a single window close to the ceiling. Before I had a chance to utter a single word, Eugene pressed me up against a bare wall and pressed his lips to mine. At first I welcomed it, but he quickly began moving his hands to places I had not even considered, let alone given him permission to touch. When I tried to push him away, he pressed me harder into the wall, muffling any verbal dispute I may have had with his mouth. Things turned more aggressive the more my fear grew, and the last thing I remember is biting his lip hard enough to draw blood, a frenzied dash for where I thought the door was, and something heavy and dull striking the side of my face hard enough to knock me out.
Six months later, I was very obviously pregnant and my parents were on the fence about disowning me. My father didn’t believe that I had not consented. I couldn’t blame him really. I did sneak out to go to the party. The only reason I wasn’t homeless yet was all thanks to my mother, who desperately wanted me to try to reconcile things with my father. She didn’t seem to understand that this was not a reconcilable situation. No man would willingly marry a fornicating whore, and that’s all I was in my father’s eyes.
In the end, it didn’t matter. Father was man of the house, and therefore the final voice on all topics. He didn’t want my sins tainting the pure white cleanliness of his home. At first, I thought everything would work out. I spoke with the butler at Eugene’s residence and thought I had a chance. Even if Eugene didn’t want the child, he could at least convince his parents to let me live with the hired help and work for my stay.
I was so naive then. Looking back, I laugh at my own stupidity and gullibility. Of course he lied about being the father of my unborn child. Rape, although more common than anyone wanted to admit, was a greater offense than unwed fornication. I found myself homeless and completely hopeless.
Long story short, I didn’t survive long after that. I tried eating the spoiled refuse discarded by the rich or the city pub. When they caught me, I groveled at their feet, begging them to have pity on me. They laughed heartlessly, beating me senseless before running me off with a dull knife. My injuries must’ve been worse on the inside than they appeared on the outside. Only two days after, I drifted into the dark abyss of death, the last thing I felt being the kick of my still living child.
I don’t remember coming back. I’m grateful for that. Based on the number of bodies surrounding me when my awareness returned, it must’ve been an ugly awakening. Like a mindless horror only searching to staunch the insatiable hunger that never seems to be completely satisfied. I could always feel it burning inside me. The only time I couldn’t control it was when a man, similar in age to Eugene, is within smelling distance. Or his clothes.
It wasn’t wise for them to leave their clothes out drying at night. Often, I’d find myself wandering mindlessly through the blackness of the living’s backyards. They frequently left clothes out to dry, and I think I was drawn to them. Drawn to the smell of young, heated blood. No amount of perfumed soap could truly mask that smell. Once I caught the scent, I lost myself. And I’d weep, or at least at first. I never understood the process, and I rarely remembered the details. But after doing it enough times, I’d managed to put the pieces together. It always started as weeping. The closer I got, the more weeping began to sound like a small babe crying. Just before I was within arm’s reach, I’d fall silent as if anticipating the next move. The kill. And in a blink, I’d have a hold of him, his warm, soft innards spilling out around my razor sharp nails. I never knew the men I killed and ate. It didn’t seem to matter. If they smelled like him it never mattered.
By my rough estimation, this process had become my life several times a month for two years. I had desperately sought answers, even trying to return to my childhood home. But I could only travel by night, and once the sun broke the horizon, I fell into the abyss of my own unliving shell. It’s almost like I didn’t exist during the day. I don’t know where I went or why. And finding answers at night? If I wasn’t about to disembowel a handsome young man, no one paid me any mind. I thought I’d lost my mind at first. It only took a month to realize my very existence, or lack thereof, was insanity incarnate. I gave up trying to understand anything after that.
I did try to make the most of it. Often, while I feasted, I’d try to remember what roasted chicken and potatoes tasted like, or pig chops and carrots. At night, while I roamed as a ghost, I’d admire the flowers that were beautifully haloed by the light of the moon. I learned to enjoy the simple things.
Eventually, all things must end. Even afterlife, or so I thought. I hated myself. I hated how many innocent lives I’d taken out of uncontrollable madness. I wanted it over. I tried to stab myself in the heart. Who wouldn’t that kill? It didn’t work. Didn’t even hurt. I tried slitting my own throat, but that just made a mess. I tried gutting myself, thinking that had to be the weakness since it’s apparently the only thing I could do in this life. I walked around with my intestines swinging about until the sun rose. When it set again and I returned, I was wholly intact. I tried gunfire, poison, hanging, drowning, death by fire, and every other possibility I could think of. It became a nightly routine, even if I was simply repeating something I’d already tried. Nothing worked. Nothing.
On the evening of my two year deathiversary, I returned from wherever I went during day and instantly had a scent. It had been an exceptionally long period of time since my last feeding and the hunger burned with extra ferocity. I had intended on seeing how quickly I’d bleed if I only cut off my toes, but the smell of man overpowered my own mental desires. I could hear the man’s voice whispering to someone else. Perhaps I’d have a double serving.
Something was different though. The voice sounded familiar, but without hearing it clearly, I could quite put my finger on it. I unconsciously buried my face in the fabric of a hanging tunic and inhaled deeply, a feeling washing over me that almost felt like warmth. I felt myself smile, my head buzzing like intoxication. And then I heard him. I heard him speaking to his companion in the same tone he’d used the night he forced himself on me. Eugene.
My vision went red. For the first time since my death, I was fully aware of my every movement even after the weeping began. I could smell him as he drew closer to me. I heard the thrumming of his pulse as it quickened once he heard the cry of the infant. I could practically taste his sweat when I fell silent. And then he saw me. I watched as his pupils dilated in instant recognition. He knew me. He shook his head, his heart beating out of control, but he didn’t move. His feet were frozen in place.
“You can’t be here,” he said weakly. “It’s not possible. I saw them put you in the ground.”
“Who is it, E?” I glanced momentarily at his little whore. She couldn’t have been more than sixteen, her nightgown hanging in near shambles from her young frame.
“Perhaps you’ll be a better father to your unborn child in the afterlife,” I hissed at Eugene. For a brief moment, I realized that was the first time I’d ever managed to utter audible words. I sounded as bad as I’m sure I looked. I was a hideous abomination, and I didn’t care. All I wanted was to taste Eugene on the inside.
I moved faster than I ever remember being able to move, my nails sinking easily into the soft flesh of his abdomen. Eugene’s little lover screamed, running back to the house behind them. I twisted my wrist slowly, soaking up every little agonized sound that escaped from Eugene. I leaned in, enjoying the very smell of him, the smell of his undeniable fear.
“How does it feel to know you’re going to be my next meal?” I whispered to him, just like he’d whispered to me the night he destroyed my life.
And then there was pain. The first real feeling I’d had aside from hunger since my death. It was more pain than what I suffered after I’d been kicked and beaten. It was like frozen fire, pulsating from my neck down into the rest of me. I couldn’t move at first. Eugene stepped away from me quickly, his little wench supporting most of his weight. Where had she come from? I watched her run away, yet there she stood, glaring at me fearlessly. I managed to reach up to where the pain originated, seeking a reason for the strangely welcomed agony.
A single nail. Not a fingernail, but a wood nail. Cold, smooth iron protruding from my neck. I looked at the young girl as she watched me crumble to my knees. I smiled at both of them, nearly laughing despite the icy burn that pulsated through every inch of my undead being. I knew what was happening and I wanted it. I wanted final death. I did laugh then, silently thanking the young girl at Eugene’s side. I realized in that moment, as I fell to my back and writhed in uncontrollable misery, that my only purpose in death was to avenge my unborn child by taking the life of the one who had ruined me. In failing, my killer went free, my child’s killer went free, but I finally got my end. I never really wanted revenge. Perhaps that made me the worst Pontianak to ever exist. Or maybe no Pontianak really wanted it, but it was our nature. I watched the world around me crumble. Or maybe I was the one crumbling. It didn’t matter. I floated in the pain that consumed me, embracing the very darkness that had brought me into the afterlife. The last thing I heard was the sound of a small babe crying.
TWICE THE CHILL - Two SHORT Horror Stories by Rachel A Olson FAMILY DINNER Sometimes it's hard to believe there really are creatures that go bump in the night. Bey had spent his entire life running through the woods and never once saw anything to convince him there were creatures worth fearing. When his littler sister, Chensei, whines about the trip home at night, Bey only mocks her. Until she disappears beyond the treeline. I, PONTIANAK Everyone hates and fears monsters, except for when you’re the monster. I never asked for it, and honestly I can’t say I’ve really enjoyed it. But I am what I am, and I can’t change it. Hell, I can’t even control it. My name used to be Anastasia, and I am a Pontianak.