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The Thing In The Shack



by Rik Hunik

(1600 words)

A slightly different version of this story previously appeared in 9Terrors, June 2015, available at Shakespir.com.

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Ray had walked the perimeter before he bought the property, and lived on it for a month, before he got a chance to explore all of it. Passing the last few trees, he pushed through the brush into a clearing. The real estate agent had not told him about this second building on the property, a shack way off near the back corner of his five-acre lot, in a densely tree section. The shiplap siding was weathered nearly black, no glass remained in any of the windows, and nearly a quarter of the cedar shakes had been blown off the roof.

Too decayed to be useful, it might even be dangerous to enter, but the door leaned half open, inviting him in. His curiosity, as though he was still a boy, compelled him.

The door hung on the top hinge, held up by a single rusty screw. Ray slipped inside without touching anything. Goose bumps sprang up on his arms as a sudden chill penetrated his faded black denim jacket. It felt at least ten degrees cooler inside and the place smelled like something had died here. In his skull he felt a deep vibration that wasn’t quite a sound.

A draft stirred some dead leaves in a corner and his head jerked in that direction. As his eyes adjusted to the gloom he focussed on a pile of bones in the corner, and when he looked around he saw more bones, large and small, mixed with fur and feathers, scattered across the floor. Ray took a few more steps, then crouched to take a closer look. As near as he could tell the bones came from squirrels, mice, rabbits, dogs and even deer.

A sharper chill sank into his bones. Something, over a long period of time, had consumed all these animals, something unnatural, evil, and now it was awake. He knew because he could feel it watching him.

Moving only his eyes, Ray looked into the doorway of the back room. It seemed darker there, and he was pretty sure he could detect two sparks, like eyes, in the three-dimensional shadow lurking there.

Fear, deep and primal, like he had never felt before, descended on him in a rush, instantly infusing every cell of his body, right to the marrow of his bones. He wanted out of the shack in the worst way. His flight response kicked in at full strength before he completed that thought. He spun around while still crouched, then sprang up like a runner from the starting line and sprinted for the door.

A whoosh, as of a strong wind, followed him. He felt tenuous fingers grabbing at his arms and shoulders, but they quickly became more solid, and stronger, holding him back. Panic and adrenaline gave him extra strength; he got one hand on each side of the doorjamb and pulled himself outside. Claws ripped through the back of his jacket and tore into his skin, but then he broke free, running across the clearing and plunging into the brush, which scratched him even more.

Ray tripped on a root and sprawled face-first into wet leaves, fully expecting the predator to pounce on his back while he was down. He quickly rolled over, ready to kick out and defend himself as well as he could, but there was nothing there to defend against. His heart still pounded but the dense, overpowering fear had evaporated. A dog barked in the distance, a crow cawed nearby.

Ray got to his feet and took off his jacket to look at the rips. After fifteen summers of service it was now ruined, but it had absorbed some of the damage meant for him. He reached a hand over his shoulder to check his wounds. There seemed to be two sets of three scratches. They stung, and there was blood on his hand, so he knew they were real but they weren’t very deep. All the scratches from the brush were on his front, so something else had made the scratches on his back.

By entering the shack he had awakened something, but it wasn’t attacking him now because it hadn’t followed him, and the only reason he could think of that it wouldn’t follow him was because it couldn’t follow him. The conclusion gave him confidence.

After a minute or two he returned to the clearing. This time, as he neared the shack, he noticed how the trees and bushes became more and more dwarfed and twisted, the grass faded to an unhealthy yellow, and within five feet of the dilapidated structure nothing at all grew. A dark aura hovered over it, like a thin, black mist.

He stopped where the last of the vegetation grew. The temperature dropped noticeably and a chill penetrated his skin, but nothing else happened so his bravado increased. He wasn’t going to let that thing get away with ruining his favorite jacket. They didn’t make them like that anymore.

He took a cautious step onto the bare ground and saw those two sparks glimmering in the doorway, watching him. He shivered and backed away.

The bright eyes remained in the doorway, watching him intently, inviting him in. Ray tore his eyes away from them, refusing the invitation.

He circled the shack, gathering some fallen shakes. The eyes kept watch through the windows. With the help of a couple of large rocks he broke the shakes into kindling and splinters. They weren’t completely dry but the splinters worked for tinder.

He didn’t have the guts to set the fire in the doorway right in front of the thing so he chose a corner on the upwind side, away from the windows. The cedar kindling caught quickly and the wind fanned the blaze. The fire licked at the weathered siding of the shack, caught and spread faster than he anticipated.

When the heat started to tighten the skin of his face he backed off to safety. The forest was still wet enough from spring rains that he didn’t think it would spread, though he hadn’t been concerned about that when he started the fire, he had been so intent on burning the thing. From the edge of the clearing he watched the fire greedily devour the dry building. “Take that, you bastard,” he said. When the roof collapsed and he was sure the fire would consume the remains he turned his back on it and headed for home.

He was unfamiliar with the terrain and came out on the road a hundred feet from his driveway. His neighbor, a thin old man named Smith, called out to him from across the road. “Did you see a fire back in there? I saw a lot of smoke.”

“Yeah, there’s a fire.” Ray kept walking. “I set it myself. I’m razing that shack in the back corner of my property.”

Smith hurried to catch up. “Are you crazy? You can’t do that.”

“It’s already done. There was something in there that needed to be burned.”

“Oh my god, I have to call the fire department right away. Maybe they can put it out before it’s too late.”

“It attacked me so I got mad and decided to get even.”

But Smith wasn’t listening. He had pulled out his cell phone and stopped walking so he could concentrate on dialing.

Ray shrugged and kept walking. Smith had more screws loose than usual today.

Ray ambled up his own driveway, pausing at the corner to admire his house, a solid structure constructed of polished fir posts and beams, with lots of stonework. His wife Angie waved to him from the picture window. He smiled and waved back.

Angie screamed and disappeared from view.

Ray broke into a full-speed run, nearly tripping himself in his haste. He paused in the doorway and scanned the room. He spotted Angie sprawled unmoving on the floor beneath the window, her belly torn wide open, exposing the fetus of their unborn child. Dead now. Both of them. His heart broke and his stomach dropped out, leaving him hollow.

Hovering over the bodies in a dense, dark cloud like suspended soot, two familiar, glowing embers stared at him.

Ray knew he shouldn’t go in but he couldn’t stop himself. The thing looked solid enough to grab. Red rage filled him. He rushed forward, reaching for it. He felt his fingers close around it and stared into those malignant eyes as he throttled it with all his strength.

The substance gave way, melting in his grip, and the ember eyes flickered. Although he heard nothing he got the impression it was laughing at him.

His emotion shifted from rage to full-blown fear. He knew he had to get to the door, he desperately wanted to flee from his own house and never come back. He let go and tried to back away, but tendrils of soot wrapped around his wrists and pulled him off balance. He fell forward, felt his hands plunging into the hot, wet mess that was Angie’s abdomen. He screamed and struggled, splashing blood on himself, but he could not pull his hands out of the gore.

Smith arrived in the doorway.

At the murder trial Ray’s story, despite his sincerity, didn’t stand up against physical evidence and an eye witness, because crazy old men speculating about supernatural entities didn’t have much credibility in a modern courtroom. The court was only interested in facts, and the fact was, according to the prosecution, that Smith saw Ray tearing his wife apart with his bare hands.

Ray refused to plead insanity. Nobody bought his story. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Nobody bought his house.


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About the Author: Rik Hunik was born in Nelson, British Columbia, Canada, in 1957, and has lived his entire life in BC, except for a few summers in Alberta, and a few days in Washington State climbing rocks. He has lived in Ymir, Wells, Quesnel, Prince George, Quesnel, North Vancouver, Quesnel, Burnaby, North Delta, and Quesnel. He lives with his wife Jo and a 17-pound (big, not fat), blue-eyed, white cat named Mister. Although he mostly constructs buildings to earn a living, he is a also a writer, poet, photographer, artist, indepentdent e-book publisher, and role playing game designer. He’s written dozens of stories, including fantasy, horror, sword & sorcery, mystery, humor, erotica, and science fiction, frequently combining genres. More than forty have been published in small press magazines and e-zines. He has also published dozens of ebooks at Shakespir, many available to the public for the first time.


Find him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/rikhunik


Other titles by Rik Hunik: available at Shakespir.com/profile/view/rikhunik


Down Among The Hoodoos (atmospheric ghost story)

The Hole Story (science fiction, space opera)

Widdershins (modern fantasy retelling of old English folk tale)

The Gold Watch (western ghost story)

Defiance (horror poem)

Easy Money (alternate history, fantasy, paranormal detective novel)

Key Service (humorous contemporary fantasy)

On Full Moon Night (horror poem)

Incident In A Tomb (fantasy, horror, humor)

The Ghost In The Kettle (contemporary ghost story)

The Sitting (horror)

Worse Than An Orphan’s Curse (dark fantasy)

Joyride (fantasy, horror)

Green Eyes (horror)

Defiance 2 (poem)

Witch’s Skin (horror)

The Dark Gate (fantasy novel, sword & sorcery)

Forces Of Evil: The Board Game (horror, humor, zombies)

Night Lures (science fiction)

The Hole (horror, joke)

Under The Shade Tree (ghost story)

Wake-Up Call ( flash fiction)

Time To Time (A collection of time travel stories)

Swords & Knives & Sorcery& Magic (An eclectic collection of sword and sorcery stories)

Witches’ Skins: The Witch Skin Quartet

The Black Book and Other Poems

The Thing In The Shack

  • ISBN: 9781370886333
  • Author: Rik Hunik
  • Published: 2016-11-18 07:50:08
  • Words: 2049
The Thing In The Shack The Thing In The Shack