Posted by : Kai | April 17, 2014
This horror story will be an extra in Memento Mori, a collection due out in October of this year, under my pen name, Sabrann Curach.
The room smelled off – the old smell of oranges, and rot and mold, crumbling away into the dusty blue haze above the table. The door had disturbed the spores, and it was flying around lazily.
“It’s just penicillin,” he said softly from behind her. “It won’t harm you,” he added.
James was 12. And he was the one that said that the Old crazy woman that lived five doors up and behind that overgrown, plant-knotted house was dead. “Just laying there, in her house.” he’d whispered.
I was 10.
I was 10 the day it happened. And I’m sure it was those oranges.
The door was stiff, and cracked, gunshot loud into the air. It was the sound of my dad’s hand, smacking me while he held me over his knee. It was the sound of him slapping my mother, the crack stopping her quiet comments on the food he’d asked for. It was the sound of his belt. It sent us running. All of us.
I had four siblings. James, Peter, Paula and Mary. Paula and Mary were older, and he didn’t hit them. Not any more. He punished them in other ways. I froze, the back of my legs tingling. James was as still behind me, his hot breath on the back of my neck, his hands no longer pushing, but just a pressure at my back. Then, he laughed.
“You’re a goose,” he told me.
“No, you are,” I muttered back. He shoved me, hard, and I landed inside the room, on the carpet. More dust sprayed up around me, sparkling in the afternoon light slanting through the room. I picked myself up as that bloom spiralled above the table. I screamed and James laughed even harder.
The smell of those oranges was quite horrible actually. Turned orange juice, ever since, has made me vomit just at the smell or sight, so no matter what they tell me about the rest of that day, I remember feeling sick. I remember feeling so sick, I ran out onto the doorstep.
And that’s when I saw it.
A cloud, straight up, in a column, blooming on the far horizon. Another. Then another. The second gust, after we’d opened the door, was hot and smelled acrid. The power went out.
I need to be clear. They weren’t mushroom clouds. They were far, far worse. I’ve grown up since that time – I mean, honestly, it was nearly 15 years ago. We know now that it’s the plumes the alien chutes leave – the disrupted column as they come down to the surface in high suction anti-grav tubes. But then, looking back, I thought God had taken a straw and was sucking soil into the air. That it was a hurricane. A tornado. I was small….I didn’t know the difference.
I stood there, slack-jawed as James laughed at me.
“sissy girl puked her guts up!” he howled with laughter as I hung over the edge of the porch. He was rummaging around in there, and didn’t turn to look at me for a few minutes.
“What are you starting at?”
I didn’t answer.
“What is it?” he asked, annoyed. And then he joined me.
It was dead still afterwards. I don’t know how long we stood there.
I didn’t know it then, but those oranges, that plume of mold, the ropy vomit of my cheese sandwich glutting out of me. It was the beginning of the end.