Read Bodies Are Disgusting Online
Authors: S. Gates
Tags: #horror, #violence, #gore, #body horror, #elder gods, #lovecraftian horror, #guro, #eldrich horror, #queer characters, #transgender protagonist
* * *
You won't hear about the family down the
street that calls animal control when their daughter tries to adopt
a peculiar stray cat a few days later. She will claim–in the
fumbling words of a six year old–that the cat is friendly. She will
argue that it wound around her feet and rubbed against her knees
until she agreed to bring it inside. She will say that she doesn't
mind the way its eyes are a solid, glazed green, or the fact that
its jaw unhinges when it yawns to reveal three sets of needle-sharp
teeth. She will cry when her parents try to take it away, and she
will cry even harder when the cat fights back and bites off the
first joint of her father's pinky finger.
You'll be too busy to pick up the whispers of
gruesome pet mutilations. The first will be a dog who slips his
leash while walking in the evening and fails to turn up before bed.
His owners will find him on their front step with a smear of blood
trailing behind him. His stomach will have been shredded open and
some of his organs will be missing. The second will be an
indoor/outdoor cat whose owner never neutered him. His owner will
never know what happened, either, but the cat will be found in the
back yard of a neighbor a few doors down, his limbs and tail gnawed
off and eyes missing. There will be a few others before everyone
learns to keep their four-legged family members safely inside at
night, and then the victims turn primarily into wild squirrels,
chipmunks, and non-migratory songbirds.
notice the way that raccoons
start to congregate near your back door, if only in a vague way.
You'll notice one night that they sit on their haunches in a grim
semicircle, their eyes wide and seeming to glow in the dim light.
You'll never think much of it, though, attributing it only to the
fact that they once saw you leave leftovers outside, rather than
the contents of those leavings.
* * *
When you wake up that afternoon and drag
yourself downstairs, Simon sits at the kitchen table. "Hey dude,"
he says around a mouthful of ham and cheese sandwich. You grunt
vaguely in response as you shuffle toward the coffee
Unperturbed, Simon continues, "So, any
particular reason you left a plate out last night?"
Your heart jumps up into your throat, but your
hands stay steady as you pour some coffee and add sugar to it.
"There was a little kitten outside last night, so I gave it some
Simon snorts. "I thought you hated
You shrug. "Momentary lapse of reason, I
"Hah. That's it, hide the fact that your heart
isn't hardened to cute fuzzy things by using Pink Floyd album
titles. Masterful distraction." But Simon returns to his lunch
without questioning it again. Once he's eaten everything but the
crusts, he takes his plate to the sink and rinses it. You sip your
coffee while he takes the "bread skins" (his term, not yours) and
stuffs them down the drain. With the water still running, he flips
the switch over the sink and lets the garbage disposal run for a
few moments before turning it and the tap off.
Once he's out of earshot, you let out a
frustrated groan. Instead of going to all of that trouble last
night, you could have just put the fucking thing down the drain and
let the blades of the garbage disposal do the rest. Hell, you could
have flushed it once you'd cut it up, or just thrown it out with
the leftover mash you'd made and no one would have been the
But what's done is done and the ideas your
calm and collected brain provides are useless in the daylight. The
plate you'd left out is in the sink, licked clean by whatever
nocturnal creatures roam your neighborhood. And, more importantly,
Ori's "gift" is gone.
* * *
You can't sleep.
Your next shift is that night, and it's less
like trying to drag a boulder behind you when you finally finish,
but you're still exhausted. You come home, throw your ink-stained
clothes in the laundry, and stand in the shower only long enough to
scrub off the worst of the grime from work. Once sufficiently
clean, you crawl into the same pair of boxers you wore last night
and haul yourself into your bed.
But you can't sleep. No matter how exhausted
you feel, no matter the lassitude in your limbs when you try to get
up, do something else to occupy your brain and trick it into
letting you drift off. After spending nearly an hour tangling
yourself in your covers, you peel them off your legs and roll to
While sleep eludes you, you decided to start
in with video games. The character you'd created to play with Simon
gains several more levels and a rare piece of
gear before you get tired of listening to digitized monster
gurgles. By the time you're completely sick of it, three hours have
passed but you still twitch restlessly when you try to lay
Rather than sit again at your desk, you grab
your laptop and settle in against your headboard. Gaming no longer
holds any appeal, so you turn to the internet. The thought of
trying to while away the time on mindless web games curdles before
it manages to even fully form, so instead you fall back on an old
mainstay. You comb restlessly through your bookmarks for your
most-visited gay, lesbian, or gonzo porn sites. You cycle through
them one at a time, but you can't find it in yourself to be
properly aroused enough to masturbate before trying to sleep
Finally, you decide to browse to your favorite
message board. Your recent unnerving encounter with Lucien aside,
it's still an enjoyable way to pass the time with minimal emotional
or intellectual investment. The conspiracy theory board is as
volatile as ever: threads about the tsunami seem to have ebbed,
replaced by speculation about a fish-kill off the Louisiana coast
and a recent rash of bird deaths over Chicago (an estimated
$200,000 dollars of damages in windshield replacement and lawsuits
from Alfred Hitchcock's estate, one poster jokes).
One thread, though, catches your eye. It's
dominated by a screenshot from the homepage of a small Virginia
newspaper. The headline reads: "Local girl hangs self with barbed
wire; Police suspect bullies to blame." In and of itself, a
common-place tragedy, but the post accompanying it strikes you as
"Remember that night? That's
Marionettestrings," an anonymous poster says.
A chorus of "what" and "who" follows, but then
another name that you recognize appears in the thread:
SilentHarper17. "She did what she thought was right," SilentHarper
says. "Are you fuckwits willing to believe me now?"
You hover your cursor over SilentHarper's
screen name. An email link populates in the bottom corner of your
browser window, and it appears to be a legitimate address, rather
than something bogus provided to satisfy a required field. Not that
this particular message board is legitimate enough to have any sort
of fields be required for posting.
Unsure of why, you click the link.
It opens a new browser tab for your webmail
and auto-fills the address. The cursor flashes in the blank area
for the message body, a steady and inviting pulse. Without
thinking, your fingers find the home keys on your laptop's keyboard
and you start typing.
All you include is your screen name on the
message board's associated chat service and the note, "If you're
awake, I'd like to talk."
The reply is swift, as if SilentHarper had
been lying in wait for your message or something like it. The new
instant message notification pops up in the corner of your screen,
SilentHarper's name highlighted in it.
"I don't sleep anymore. Alena says that chosen
ones don't need sleep, but I think she is just trying to break me.
It won't work. What did you want?"
You consider your response for a moment. What
you want? After a moment, you send, "I can't sleep
either. Maybe she isn't lying. I don't know. Things have gotten
weird. I keep seeing weird things, nightmares. Last night I swear
this kid made me tear out their spleen with my bare hands and I
think they wanted me to eat it. I fed it to the strays."
Their response takes a little more time, but
it arrives within minutes. "You aren't going crazy. This is real.
Alena says that you belong to Ori, right?"
Seeing Ori's name printed in SilentHarper's
chat window makes your diaphragm seize. Your fingers skitter over
the keys. "I don't belong to anybody," you want to say, but the
message that sends is a simple, "yeah."
"My condolences," SilentHarper responds. A few
moments later, "Alena tells me that Ori is an erratic player at
best. It's very old. Possibly senile."
"How can it be old enough to be senile? Ori
looks like they're fourteen."
"They take forms they think you'll like. Alena
has the face of an angel. She looks just like a girl I knew in high
school who died in a wreck junior year." The stream of text pauses.
"You could just be a pedophile in denial."
"Oh my fucking god," you growl aloud as you
type the same into your chat window. "I am not a fucking
"Like I said, Ori is old and
"Must be," you respond. After you press enter
and send the message, your cursor blinks in the chat window. Your
fingers are still, your mind devoid of anything else to say.
Predawn light filters through the blinds because you never bothered
to close your curtains. Everything is so still that you wonder if
maybe you can't hear the sound of Simon's heart beating in the
other bedroom across the hall.
SilentHarper sends another message. "You're
not the first person to message me, you know. I've heard from a few
others. People who've been chosen, I mean. If we all die, they
lose. If we get ourselves killed, the god that chose us is done
this round. They can't choose another."
"You're talking about that kid from Virginia."
It's not a question you type, but a stated fact.
"I'm talking about all of us. Don't you wonder
why all of these weird things are happening? The tsunami, the
earthquakes in India, fish kills and hive collapses everywhere, the
freak snowstorm in Australia?"
You dash off another quick, "yeah," followed
by, "And I guess you're going to tell me?"
"It's demonstrations of power. Probably not
ALL of them, I mean we've still gone a long way toward totally
fucking up the environment and all that, but a lot of them...
Someone doesn't believe the godhead that's visiting them, and they
just sort of knock all the birds outta the sky. Or drown some
coastal burghs that happen to include L-fucking-A. It's just
piddling parlor tricks to these things."
"Parlor tricks?" you scoff. "What are you,
"Not quite, but I'm probably older than you,"
SilentHarper replies. "Had a wife. Got a kid. Kid spends most of
her time with the ex, and I can't blame her. I'm not exactly in the
running for any father-of-the-year or perfect-husband competitions,
here. But you're missing the point. It's literally nothing for
these things to just reach out and destroy whatever they want. It's
like swatting flies to them. They don't care about us, or this
planet, and they never will."
Struck by a sudden thought, "Why does Alena
still talk to you if you've already decided that you're not going
to do whatever it is she wants?"
"Who can tell what an eldritch horror is
thinking at any given time? I'd guess that she's hoping I change my
mind. And at the very least, each person I convince to refuse the
offer is one less competitor she has to worry about. Which gives
her more time to convince me."
"Everyone's got their price," you
"Like I said, I have a little girl to worry
about. I want her to grow up, have kids of her own. Alena can't
give me that. What about you, what's your price? What would Ori
have to do or let you do to get your consent?"
"I don't want what Ori's selling. It's too
creepy. I woke up in the shower with a fucking SPLEEN in my
"Well, that's encouraging." A pause, followed
by, "I mean, that's a shit way to wake up, but it means Ori's
probably too out of touch with reality to really put together an
enticing offer. Like we said, it's old and probably senile."
Another pause. "You might want to keep an eye on Simon, though.
Alena says Lucien is a pretty vicious and motivated
Your fingers tremble over the keys, and
something cold knots up in the pit of your stomach. "What's Simon
got to do with any of this?"
"Simon's been chosen, just like you and me.
You didn't think it was weird that, after all this time that you've
been living together with him keeping celibate, he just suddenly
happens to have found someone to fall ass-over-teakettle for
Of course you'd noticed. You'd pointed it out
to Simon himself, not a few days ago, but you don't say so. "He's a
grown-ass man and can do what he wants, when he wants. If he hasn't
found anything worth sticking his dick in until recently, that
isn't any of my goddamn business. Or yours."
"Gonna be your business when that thing he
sticks his dick in devours our goddamn planet. Talk to him. Talk
him out of it. Slit his throat for all I care."