Monday, November 28, 2011

NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Final Round "The Animal Within"

Challenge was  open/secret hideout/framed newspaper article

Here's my horror story
The Animal Within

Micah stood at the mouth of the cave as the sunset bled over the jagged spruce and boney birch.  He massaged the creases on his wrist and rubbed the scar on his forearm.  He turned inside and checked the bolts that anchored the chains to the cave wall.  He snapped on the shackles and they clicked locked. He sat next to the carcasses and waited.
            The moonlight guided Paul as he clawed his way up the hillside.  He switched the burlap bag from shoulder to shoulder, struggling to manage the burden.  Low growls reached his ears and he knew the hideout was close. 
            Paul made the trip up here every month, since he and Micah were sixteen.  That was the year Micah’s condition appeared.  After a gruesome and bloody night, Paul kept Micah from taking his own life and promised to protect him.  Micah kept a framed newspaper article to remind him of the horror he could unleash. The first night in the cave, Paul did not bring any food and Micah nearly chewed his own arm off trying to break free.  Since then he satiated Micah’s bloodlust with rabbits, stray cats, or whatever could be found on the side of the road.
            Initially, Micah’s savagery repulsed Paul.  With time, the mortification evolved into curiosity, then into fascination, and now was bordering infatuation.  As Paul came around the bend, his eyes widened, delighted by the sight of the gargantuan beast pacing at the caves entrance.
            “Hello friend.  Hungry?”  The chains went taught as Micah lunged at Paul.  “Easy boy.  I have a special treat for you tonight.”
            Paul set the sack in front of Micah, and then quickly retreated.   His voyeuristic pleasure pulsed at the carnage as Micah ravaged the bag.
            Micah awoke in the chilly morning air, refreshed and relieved to have finished another episode.  He looked across the cave and saw Paul sleeping. Paul had left the keys to the shackles for Micah, and Micah freed himself to go search for firewood.   On his way out of the cave, a scrap of yellow fabric caught his eye.   On closer inspection he realized that there were several shreds of similar yellow cloth.  A lone pink ribbon put the horrific picture together, and Micah collapsed with the weight of the discovery.
“Paul!”  The bellow reverberated off the stone walls. Paul jolted awake.  He saw the ribbon in Micah’s quivering hand.
            “You weren’t supposed to know.”
            “Why?  What have you done?  How could you do this to me?”
            “Do what exactly?  I’m letting you be who you really are.  I’m accepting you in a way that no one else can.  You are special Micah.  All of us have darkness in us and you get to experience it unfiltered.  I am giving you freedom.”
            “Freedom?  This is not freedom.  This is Hell. I don’t want to be a monster.”
            “But that’s just it, you are one.  It’s time to embrace it.”
            “No.  I’m leaving, and I’m not coming back.  We need to go to the police.”
            “I can’t let you do that Micah.”  Paul pounced at the chains.  Micah tried to escape, but Paul caught him.   They fell to the floor, trading punches and kicks.  Throughout the scrum Paul cackled in jubilation.
 “Let it out”
 “Be free!”
Tears streamed down Micah’s face as he struggled.  “No!”  He cried as he smashed Paul’s head into the ground.  Paul went limp.
When Paul came to, he saw Micah’s penetrating stare.  Paul raised his hand to his throbbing skull and felt the steel tug of the restraints.
“You want to be an animal? So be it.”  Micah tossed a dead squirrel at Paul’s feet and left the cave.  He heard Paul’s howling, but when he looked at the ribbon in his hand he knew he wasn’t coming back.

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