Word Count 500
The Night the Horrors Came
By Mike Cecconi
They ripped one of my arms off, the monsters, and all I could do was stand there, frozen in place, unable to even scream my shock and pain. Loping squishy things, the howling shambling sacs of meat looking on my shattered limb with some rudiment equivalent of pride. But how could such grotesques be proud of anything, the large one bellowing deep, the smaller shrieking in higher pitches as they gathered around to hold in foul regard my broken arm? Was the rumbling thing their leader? Their chief, their general, their king? I doubted such things complex enough to be that organized, the creature most likely simply the largest, leading by force, strongest only from getting the choicest parts of some slaughtered goat. Or whatever they ate, the big dumb bastards.
They took my detached limb to a nearby clearing, with a tone of almost reverence, where I could see a pile of other broken arms, some still weeping life-blood, others long-dry. They held it up to the sky and seemed to be selecting a worthy mate for what was once of mine. Picking “the right one” out of their savage collection of leavings. God, what was I looking at, so frozen in my fear, was this a rite, was this why they left me so destroyed? Was this their crude attempt at a faith, a butcher’s gore-soaked communion with divinity? It was difficult to imagine them that intelligent or a conceive a god or goddess quite that hard-hearted.
The big lump eventually found his match for that wrenched from my flesh, held them up to the sky, for the little ones to witness or maybe to better be seen by the elemental sky and then, of all things, started rubbing them together. Rubbing, rubbing, faster, faster, first the booming one and then all the shrill ghouls too, they started chanting out a word, maybe the name of their dark god. “Fric-TION, fric-TION, fric-TION!” Maybe it was a name, anyway, maybe “friction” was their word for supplication or to call down some cruel glory. “Friction” as their hallelujah, “Friction” as their wailed hosannas, as their holy creed. “Friction.”
Then the damnedest thing of all, there was smoke where my limb met the other and finally a fire there amidst their chants of “friction”, some eldritch demon set those arms ablaze and when they caught in full, in rapt jubilation they threw them into the pile and sent the entire horror show up into a roaring wicked flame. These half-sketched creatures and their heartless lord that took my arm in tribute, for all their mindless terror, they did know some terrible magic after all.
And so I remained there, rooted to the ground, amazed and afraid, as I watched them celebrate their inferno deep into the night as the embers faded and when they left their foul encampment that next morning, I could only pray to my own gods that they would never would return to my forest with their “friction”.