I recently started using a new social media site called Pillowfort. It’s been pretty great! No, they aren’t paying me to say this, I am just stoked. Why? Well, because the community is pretty great, but also because I started a horror writing group and will be posting weekly writing prompts that I will also be participating in. It is so great having motivation for writing. Not the long form stuff that I have to do by myself, but that quick stuff that lets you flex your writing muscles. That said, here is the short for this weeks prompt which was: “They have no mouths”.
We stood in the middle of the clearing, huddled together and clutching our flashlights. My sneakers were soaked from running through the dew coated grass all night. We were out of breath, dirt covered, and exhausted.
“I don’t see them,” Shelley panted, her voice breaking halfway through as she swallowed down a sob.
The woods were quiet, too quiet. We listened for some sign that we were still being pursued, a snap of a twig, the rustling of underbrush, anything, but none came.
And then they were there, coming out of the tree line at all sides, surrounding us. I felt sick to my stomach as I watched their jerky movements. In the moonlight we could see how sickly slick their skin was, how it was drawn taut over bones that composed an anatomy that wasn’t in any way human. They were hunched, some on all fours, some standing, some lower to the ground, older, barely able to walk so they crawled. They’re faces were smooth except for flaring slit nostrils that breathed in our scents. Our fear.
They stopped just shy of us, but close enough that we could smell them too, could smell the scent of decay and earth that wafted off of them.
Molly gagged and grabbed my arm to keep herself steady.
“What are they doing?” Shelley muttered, pushing in closer to the rest of us.
“I don’t know… but… If we can get past them, camp shouldn’t be too much further.” I gave a nod towards the aged Camp Kendall totem a few feet off, standing tall and giving us a worn painted grin. I’d thought it cheesy when I first saw it, when my parents dropped me off a few days before, but now the grin was sinister. Mocking. The totems were scattered through the woods, used as markers to lead lost campers. We’d been running all night, frantically searching for them, and this was the first one I’d seen.
“We can’t get past those things.” Molly said. Her fingers dug into my arm, nails biting into the skin. If I didn’t have so much adrenaline pumping through my veins it would have hurt.
I started to reply, but didn’t get a chance. The things around us, still jerking, bones grinding together, putrid flesh creaking, screamed. It was abrupt, high pitched and loud enough that we grabbed out ears, flashlights dropping to the ground in a series of thumps.
How? How were they making such an awful sound? They had no mouths.
The noise was like the howl of a pack of wolves, a dinner call to others like them. We had to move. If we didn’t, we’d die.
I dropped my hands from my ears and grabbed Molly’s wrist, scrambling to process anything aside from the cacophony of hellish voices.
“Run! Go!” I shot forward, dragging Molly after me and shoving through the monsters that blocked out path. I prayed that the other girls would follow, that we’d make it back alive, but I was exhausted, we all were. My legs burning, shaky, and Molly was stumbling behind me. Our flash lights gone, we were plunged into darkness as we broke past the trees, being led only by the occasional break in the forest roof that let moonlight leak through.
Behind us, the screaming changed, turning angry. I could hear pounding footsteps, both of the other girls, of sneakers on moist soil or breaking the dead foliage scattered over the ground, and of those things, with their claws scraping tree trunks, bodies weaving deftly through the familiar terrain while we struggled. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of white in the dark. Some of them were flanking us.
Just a little further.