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Dirt (A Scraping Tale)

by Rich Young

dirt by rich young“Detectives have no idea what caused a Wichita man to murder his family. Harold McGuire fatally shot his wife and their two children, before turning the gun on himself. Neighbors say the McGuires were a ‘normal’ family with no history of violence. Days before the slaughter occurred, June McGuire told a neighbor that she had been having trouble sleeping and felt like something terrible was about to happen, sources say.”

“Police investigating Jill Thompson’s death have uncovered pieces of a mysterious letter from her husband, Craig, in the fire place in the family’s living room. In the letter, Thompson apologizes for his intentions to murder his wife and then kill himself, stating that she will ‘…understand later, when it cannot hurt us anymore.'”

The Tree was remarkable for two reasons. It was in the center of a field with only a few smaller, scraggly bushes, and it was the only tree of its kind anywhere around. Standing at least 40 feet tall with a canopy of loose, airy leaves spread apart like ferns, the Tree had no lower branches. It would have looked more at home in an advertisement for a desert safari than where it grew on this quiet Midwest farm.

Stephen Ross, determined, walked against the wind towards the Tree with his family reluctantly following. Clouds started gathering in the East, behind the Ross family, forming rolling thunderheads as the storm front moved in.

“This is crazy, Steve!” Amy tried to yell louder than the wind. “What are you doing?”

“I told you, it has to be now. We have to go now!” Stephen yelled back to his disgruntled wife.

“To the Tree? With this storm coming? Steve, that doesn’t make any sense.” Amy’s voice now sounded more concerned than angry. “We should be thinking about opening the storm cellar, not being outside!”

“Trust me!” Stephen yelled.

Amy Ross slowed down and considered her two sons. James, at nine years old, seemed alright with this insanity. Tommy, at six years old, and with some tendencies towards Amy’s anxiety, was visibly shaken and crying.

“Everything is okay, Tommy,” Amy reassured him. She held him close. She knew this was crazy, but she trusted her husband— well, kind of. The truth is that they were drifting farther apart than they ever had been before.

In the last few years, Steve had been distant and secretive. Amy was sure he was having an affair, but it was unlikely since he never went anywhere alone. She thought maybe he had met someone online, but he was hardly ever on his laptop or phone anymore, either. He mostly spent time gazing off into the corner of whatever room he was in, and when Amy asked what he was thinking about, or if something was wrong, his answers were short and vague. She thought he may be sick and encouraged him to see a therapist, thinking that he may be depressed, but he never went.

Stephen yelled for his family to keep up as the storm continued to build around them. A few heavy raindrops started crashing into the family, and the breeze picked up a chill in it that gave Amy goosebumps as it rolled over her skin. The pressure from the storm, and from concern for her husband and kids, had teamed up to create a stiffness in Amy’s neck that she recognized as the start of a migraine. Stephen was standing at the base of the Tree waiting for his family. The rain picked up, and the fierce wind blew it sideways into their faces, as Amy, James, and Tommy walked towards Stephen. The wispy canopy of the Tree was too light and high up to offer any shelter from the storm.

“Stand here, here, and here,” Stephen said to his wife and kids, pointing to the area around the trunk of the Tree.

“What? Why?” Amy asked, frustrated, but moved into the requested position expecting no sensible answer from her husband.

“Okay. I’m sorry—I know this is scary and seems nuts, but trust me, I am saving us from something you never need to know about,” Stephen said to his family, who were all holding hands next to the trunk of the tree.

Stephen Ross reached into the back of his pants and fumbled with his late father’s .44 Magnum. After the funeral several years ago, Stephen had found the gun while going through his dad’s things. Stephen was never interested in guns and had locked it up in the attic until a few days ago. Now, it was loaded. It felt so heavy. Sometimes things do not make sense. It does not make them wrong.

“I love you.”

“A Midwest family was found murdered after bad storms crashed through farmland. It is believe that Stephen Ross shot himself after killing his wife, Amy, and two sons under a tree on the family farm during the worst part of a storm that also created the tornado that leveled the family’s farmhouse. Police say that there may not have been enough time for the family to get to safety, and the family may have perished in the house if they had been inside. The tree where their bodies were found was the only part of the Ross’s farm left untouched by the tornado.”

It was dark, but there must have been a source of light somewhere. She could see strings, no roots, hanging down from the ceiling over her head. Her hands felt dirt under them.

“Where are we?” Amy whispered.

“Under the Tree. Well, kind of,” Stephen answered. He was sitting, legs crossed in front of him, holding their sons close to his chest. They turned to see their mom as she sat up.

“Are we dead? You shot us, yes?” Amy asked. She raised her hands up to her forehead, but there was no trace of blood or a hole.

“We’re safe,” Stephen said.

“Safe from what?”

“The Scraping.”

Rich Young is a writer, guitar-player, business analyst, father, and husband from Michigan. He has completed one novel, Letters From Tomorrow, and several short stories ranging from horror to science fiction. His story “The Scraping” was previously published by Garden Gnome Publications.

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Flush

by Rich Young

scary creatureOnce upon a time, there was a smell. It emanated from an apartment on the first floor of the complex. The tenants that lived in the rundown apartment complex simply accepted its rottenness as a part of their lives, but no one ever really got used to it being there. Mr. Alex tried to stay away from the apartment, but the mystery of what could be inside kept him returning to the door of the abandoned first floor apartment that would never be rented out.

The door to the apartment did not lock, and did not need to–there was nothing of value in there for anyone to take.

Being the resident gossiper, Mrs. Giovanni loved to tell the story that the apartment had belonged to an unusual traveler many years ago. When the man suddenly disappeared, the Super received a note stating that he would continue to receive the rent, plus any required increase in rent, forever. The Super went into the apartment to find it empty and, although it did not make any sense, decided not to rent it out to anyone else. The apartment remained empty, but there was something that captivated people to gather outside the door. Mrs. Giovanni was often seen standing around the downstairs hallway near the apartment, but she had never ventured inside.

Mr. Alex was minding his own business one minute, and the next he was standing in the bathroom, staring down at the disgusting toilet. He did not even realize that he had gone inside. He had passed by the door to the empty apartment and then was pulled inside by an unseen force–a beautiful voice singing to him.

The next thing he noticed was the smell, like vinegar and swiss cheese, and that there was something inside the bowl of the dirty toilet–a fetus covered in slime and blood. He reached his hand down into the thick, red-brown water and touched it.

He instantly felt like a hole in his world was filled. As he held the tiny, misshapen body close to him, the creature’s eye holes lit up with joy. Mr. Alex heard the being sing its perfect song inside of his head. The words were foreign, but the message was of love. This was to be the only god that Mr. Alex would worship from now on. On that first day, he set the god back down in its water, murmured a short prayer, and left the apartment. And the god was happy.

He could not stay away; he visited his god to pray and receive the blessing of its presence. When he was not in the bathroom, he felt empty and alone. Mr. Alex could never get the acrid smell off of his hands. People started noticing the smell and staying away from him, thinking that he had lost his mind. He started staying for longer periods of time.

Mr. Alex was not the only tenant that visited the toilet in the abandoned apartment on the first floor. The being that lived in that toilet called others to it. It gathered a following of worshipers that started visiting daily to hold it. They were special, chosen followers. Some would hold the body close to their face and shower kisses on its wet, undulating skin. Their lips would carry the smell on them out into the world and spread the feeling of completeness to chosen people outside of the apartment complex.

Slowly, there began a buzzing world circulating around the empty apartment and the entity that lived in the toilet inside. The people were peaceful but jealous as they wanted the god to only favor them. They vied for more time with it, and as their jealousy grew, people became more passionate in their expressions of love for their god.
They began to remove their clothes and rub the holy secretions from the being on more parts of their exposed skin. The people became aroused, and while they waited for their next turn with their god, they would congregate in the other areas of the crowded apartment, writhing around, over and under one another, like mad snakes in a dirty pit. And the god was happy.

Mrs. Giovanni was not happy with the traffic in and out of the apartment complex. Not being a chosen one, she thought that the followers were mindless and sick. She decided to wait until all was quiet and pay the toilet a visit. With her crucifix held tightly in the palm of her hand, she walked up to the door of the abandoned apartment and pushed it open.

Inside, hundreds of naked, fowl-smelling, emaciated people were piled up everywhere. They were sleeping, and their chests were rising and falling in unison. There was a low murmur among them–a hollow, vibrating excitement just under the surface of their skin–where Mrs. Giovanni could see glowing orbs pulsating. There was no way for her to get through to the bathroom of the apartment without stepping on bodies, but she was determined to see the toilet and end this circus.
She steadied herself and started stepping on the sick bodies. Her feet found solid ground in torsos and thighs. She took one careful step after another from one body to the next. Some of the bodies that she stepped on moved slightly, but none awoke. She took another step and looked down to see the face of her friend, Mr. Alex, on a frail body next to the one she was standing on. This caused her to gasp and lose focus on her steps.

She slipped, put her foot down without looking, and heard a grisly pop.

From underneath her shoe, she saw a gray-green substance ooze. She fell onto the pile of pulsing, stinking bodies. The vibration in the apartment became faster, louder. She picked up her foot and a tiny body was crawling from one of the glowing orbs underneath the skin of the person below her.

She now realized what they were. The eggs started hatching all around the room. The smell was unbearable, as small grotesque bodies, covered in blood and fluids started ripping through flesh and crawling towards her. She held the cross in her hand but knew that her god wouldn’t be able to help her.

Rich Young is a writer, guitar-player, business analyst, father, and husband from Michigan. He has completed one novel, Letters From Tomorrow, and several short stories ranging from horror to science fiction. He is currently working on a new novel that sums up all the experiences of his life in some odd fashion or another.

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The Scraping

by Rich Young

evil the scrapingThe stairs were the problem. That Thomas could hear the Scraping within the walls and see the Face in the glass were of no consequence compared to the fear that the steps invoked. The steps led up and out — away — out into the light where bad things were decided, fates were cast, and the people bowed and prayed to a god of light. Thomas knew that light would first blind him, then burn his skin, and finally, after a lifetime of painful torture, he would die.

One fearful night, Thomas awoke from sleeping to find himself standing on the steps. He was three steps up and it was as if all the good in the world was focused on him. Thomas was born of the darkness, lived in the pain of others, and hid in the shadows, horrifying the living that entered his world. He would stay there forever if he could. But, in his weakest moments the Good tried to pull him out, up the steps, and into the world that would slowly destroy him. The weak moments were coming more often. He would wake and find that he was on the first or second step and quickly jump back inside through the window.
Thomas decided to ask the Face why she thought this was happening to him.

“Face, I am becoming drawn to the outside world. Why would this happen?” Thomas asked.

“Thomas, you have lived here alone for many years. Have you ever wanted to be with another like you?”

The Face never answered questions without posing new questions.

“No. I don’t wish to leave. I am just not in control of my own body at times,” Thomas answered.

“Thomas, you are not the only creature of your kind in the world. Maybe you need a friend.”

“But you are my friend, and the Scraping is also my friend,” Thomas said.

“We are not your friends, Thomas. We are not real. You created us to play with you. Look deep and you will see.”

With that, the Face disappeared from the glass and left Thomas alone.

* * *

Thomas thought about this for a long time and became furious. He tried to take his frustration out by rolling around on the broken glass and miscellaneous debris that covered the floor of his world. Sometimes the pain would help when he felt angry. He rolled and cut, punched and dragged, bled and oozed, but the pain of the words that the Face said were stronger than anything Thomas could do to himself. He needed something more. He yelled out for the Scraping.

The walls vibrated with the energy that the Scraping evoked when called. Then, the sound began. First, from the floor, then up towards the ceiling.

The Scraping was so named by Thomas for its ability to scrape and tear from the inside of the walls. Thomas found the sound to be soothing. Once, when Thomas had lured an outsider into his home, he let the Scraping play with him until he went mad from the music within the walls. Thomas enjoyed watching as the outsider used his own hands to rip at the sides of his head to stop the noise from entering his mind through his ears. The outsider bled out from where his ears were and collapsed, screaming, in a heap on the littered floor of his house. The Face asked Thomas to feed her the man while he was still alive, and Thomas obliged.

Today, the Scraping was in a foul mood and Thomas did not want to play the same old games that it wanted to.

“Never mind, I am not in the mood to play your dumb games,” Thomas spoke aloud.

“Fine, Thomas. I was perfectly happy sleeping.”

The Scraping slept a lot. It took a lot of rest to be so horrific. In fact, Thomas decided to nap as well.

* * *

Thomas was jolted awake by the presence of a man walking by his house. He rose and looked out of the closest window to see the man staring back at him. The man smiled.

Outsiders generally avoided this place where Thomas lived. The man turned from the window and started up the walkway to the front door. Thomas called for the Scraping to scare him away, but the Scraping was asleep. Thomas called for the Face to frighten the man, but the Face was not in her glass. The man grasped the handle on the front door and pushed. The door creaked open on old, rusty hinges.

The man called out, “Thomas.”

Thomas flinched at the sound of his name. He stood tall and proud and pulled out all the fear that he could find from deep inside his dark soul. The man said his name again, but Thomas did not hear it. All he could hear was the rage building inside himself. It roared like an old steam train.

The man flinched. Thomas did not know if he could hear the sound or just feel the darkness that Thomas created in his evil, tainted soul. Thomas reviled in the timing of the arrival of his new toy. He would put this man through the worst of everything that ever incited fear in any outsider.

Thomas reached his powerful, mangled hands towards the man. He would start by choking him. As his hands drew closer to the man’s neck, he felt a resistance that he had never felt before. The man smiled again.

“Thomas, time to go,” the man said. Then he raised his hands over his head and the house around Thomas disappeared. The Scraping was no longer, as the walls were gone. The glass where the Face lived was also gone. The world that Thomas knew was dead. The sun beamed down upon Thomas and he felt the evil within, the darkness in his soul, dissolve. He walked slowly up the stairs.

Rich Young is a writer, guitar-player, business analyst, father, and husband from Michigan. He has completed one novel, Letters From Tomorrow, and several short stories ranging from horror to science fiction. He is currently working on a new novel that sums up all the experiences of his life in some odd fashion or another.

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