Free Stories

The Monstrosity of Kansas

When Wyatt takes a hiatus at a secluded, rural home, a great feeling of uneasiness continues to haunt him. He feels like he is being watched, but when his efforts to comfort himself fail, Wyatt turns to desperate measures to protect his sanity.

This short story is less than 5,800 words long and consists of four chapters, making it a delight for a casual reader. Please remember that all work on this page is copyrighted, and anything stolen will be pursued.


The Monstrosity of Kansas


Day 1

Wyatt Hillary stepped down from his Ford F-150, dust and sedimentary particles rising from the dirt road as his boots collided with it.  He looked over to the solitary old house which sat in the middle of a field populated with dead tallgrass yellowed from heat and neglect.  He was in the right place. 

Wyatt walked to the passenger side door of his truck, opened it, and set his eyes on the typewriter he had brought with him, the old device sitting eagerly on the seat.  The thing was a little rough around the edges, but nothing too rusty, especially for the deal he got from the pawn shop.  He hauled the heavy machine into his arms, shut his truck door, and started towards the house.

The man felt the blazing heat of the Kansas Sun relax as he took cover beneath the withered porch.  Wyatt set the weighty typewriter on a small bench below a dusty, unclean window and beside a shovel before examining a fresh note taped to the front door.


Hey Wyatt,


The key is underneath the doormat.  Like I said, you can stay as long as you need.  The water, AC, and electricity work just fine. I packed some food for you in the fridge and you can sleep in the left room in the back.  But sorry, no washing machine.

Whenever you leave, just be sure to lock up and all that, and I hope you get some writing done.

Oh, and I also hope you and your wife can work everything out.  You always do.


Thanks, bud.



Wyatt removed the note from the door and crumpled it into his pocket.  He peered underneath the slightly tattered doormat and saw a dull, silver key resting on the floorboards.  He unlocked the door and hauled his things inside, setting them on a table just right from the kitchen.  The entire home seemed rather decrepit and eerie, yet Wyatt thought that maybe this would help him write that horror story he’d been thinking about.  

He hung his denim jacket on the coat rack nailed to a wall beside the front door and drew his phone from his pocket.  He turned it on, seeing a missed text from his wife, Shannon.  He unlocked the device to see the full message:


Hi, honey. Have a great time at Lou’s place, I hope you can get some writing done and I can’t wait to see you again :)


Wyatt sighed deeply before marking the message as read without replying.  He opened up the settings on his phone and ensured the location tracking was deactivated.  Wyatt always felt paranoid about his location being accessible.  He didn’t color himself as much of a conspiracy theorist, but the idea of the phone tracking him always stuck with him.  He grew up in the age of these devices, and he was there to watch as they slowly became part of mundane, everyday life.

Despite this, however, while standing within the quiet house, he still felt as if he was being watched.  He felt observed.  It was as if someone had torn him open and began reading him like a book.  

Wyatt glared into the camera on his phone, which loured back at him.  He recalled stories of deep web hackers viewing people through their webcams, which made his hair raise.  He powered the phone off and set it face down on the table before walking over to the window above the kitchen sink.  He looked out into the barren field of tallgrass.  He noticed darker clouds just over the hills slowly encroaching on the land, casting the ground in a veil of darkness as they hovered above.  He turned his attention back down to the tallgrass.  Something unnerved him about it, like he was a gazelle being stalked by a tiger camouflaging itself in the flora.  

He brushed his unease off as nothing but his overactive anxiety, stepping away from the window and exploring the remainder of the small house.  He examined the bathroom, his bedroom, and also peered into the office and master bedroom.  Nothing in particular intrigued him, yet what did catch his attention was the withered green door leading to the tornado shelter beside the kitchen.  It bore a very new looking gold-colored padlock with a combination built into it.  Wyatt was rather perplexed, as Lou didn’t mention anything relating to the tornado shelter, and certainly not whether or not to go down there.  He decided to tug on the lock just to be certain it was sealed.  The metal jostled against the wooden door and didn’t budge.  

Nevertheless, Wyatt moved along and attempted to sit down and write a bit.  He seated himself on a crude wooden chair by the table and looked blankly at the page, which only bore two measly paragraphs.

“Gotta start somewhere,” he thought to himself aloud.

Occasionally, Wyatt would think of a sentence, maybe just a few words.  But ultimately, he felt himself incapable of writing.  Too often would he simply rise out of his uncomfortable seat and circle around the table, pacing about what to write.  He did this throughout the remainder of the day: thinking, then writing a word or two, procrastinating, and then finding an excuse to ponder some more. 

As the hours burned away, tired and paranoid, Wyatt decided he needed to get some sleep.  Perhaps, he believed, sleep would suppress his tension.  He entered the room he would be staying in.  The bed was in the far left corner, hugged by the wall, and the covers lay beneath another dirty window looking out into the black fields, as no lights were nearby to illuminate them.  

He inspected the sheets for bugs, and despite seeing a couple dead ants and cobwebs, he didn’t see much.  Still, he opted to rest atop the covers instead.  Surprisingly, Wyatt found himself sinking into the soft material.  He stared up at the fan slowly spinning above, thinking back to how he got here.

He loved Shannon, but both of them knew they needed some space.  Just for a little while, he continued to reassure himself.  Wyatt began to sweat, as he still felt something was wrong.  

“It’s just your paranoia,” he whispered to himself.

He tried to think of something else, paying the window to his right with no attention.  He thought of Shannon again.  He nearly shed a tear recalling himself earlier not responding to her friendly text.  Wyatt wanted to reply, he did, he wished he could sleep beside her again, hear her beautiful voice again, feel warmed by her flawless smile and kind eyes again.  

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I’m sorry, Shannon, I miss you, too.”

Wyatt found himself tossing and turning in the damp, sweaty fabric.  He was still very much perturbed by something in the air.  He felt cold, alone, naked and exposed.  He swerved over back to the window.  He saw nothing.  Nothing was watching him.  He erupted from his bed and burst the closet open.  He saw nothing.  He went into the pantry, grabbed a flashlight from the cabinet, and peered under his bed.  Once again, he saw nothing.  Wyatt sighed, he felt like a fool, like he was a lab rat in someone’s game.  He could feel them laughing at him, he could feel them breathing down his neck, like the breeze from the vent on the floor of the room.  

He paused, slowly looking over to the vent.  He tore the worn plate off, nearly falling back.  Staring into the black abyss of the interior, Wyatt approached.  He shined his light: nothing.  He moved his head into the hole and pictured some dangerous, musty man hunched over, a rotting grimace crossing his dirty face.  He saw nothing.  It felt as if now he was watched from a tall, lingering figure right behind him.  Once again, Wyatt checked behind him, and once again, he saw nothing.

The man was quickly boiling into frustration at his humiliating uneasiness.  He set the flashlight on his night stand before looking out into the darkness of the night once more.  He saw nothing.  To help ease his mind, Wyatt swung the thin curtains over the window, finessing them in a way as to leave no view to the outside.  He sunk back into the bed and hoped to finally get some sleep.

Day 2


The previous night had been an onerous one for Wyatt.  It had taken hours to drift to sleep, and he now emerged beaten and exhausted.  However, he was quickly rushed awake by his impending sense of peril.  Enveloped in a tight restraint of sweat, he continued to feel as though one was observing him, excavating the depths of his mind.  He felt nugatory and vulnerable, like a soldier standing tall in the midst of no man’s land, awaiting death by unseen snipers and gunners aiming down their sights.  

Nevertheless, he crept out of bed and swung open the bedroom door intensely, as to frighten off a threat which wasn’t there.  Wyatt scanned the room: everything was as he had left it, and nothing new had come.  He peered through the windows and checked the other rooms: nothing.  He forced himself to accept that he was simply paranoid, nothing more.  Perhaps, Wyatt pondered, this feeling would provide him with inspiration for his authorial work.

He seated himself at the table before the typewriter.  He sat and stared at the page, as if he awaited to be bestowed with words in which to repeat.  Wyatt must have read the final sentences nearly a dozen times over, and yet no idea, good or bad, came to him.

Wyatt glanced over to his phone, which beckoned him.  Maybe Shannon had sent him another message.  The man picked up the phone and powered it on.  Upon starting, the phone displayed a voicemail notification.  Shannon?  Wyatt went to his visual voicemail and noticed that his wife had left two messages.  He hesitated, his finger hovering over the play button.  Was it wrong?  He was still away from her, just hearing her after the fact.  Despite his reluctance, Wyatt played the first message.


“Hi, honey.  It’s me, Shannon. Ugn… well, I’m just calling to check in on you, you know, make sure you got to Lou’s in one piece.  But… I understand you’re probably busy writing.  I just… wanted to say hi.”


She sighed.


“Anyway, I hope you’re doing okay… I’ll see you in a few days, okay?  Bye.”


Wyatt slumped back into his chair and let out a sigh of his own.

“I miss you, too, Shannon,” he whispered.

He lunged over to his phone and stared meaningfully at the second voice message.  Wyatt felt as if his internal back-and-forthing were being witnessed, and he felt as if a watchful eye glared down at his screen from over his shoulder.  Because he had already listened to the first message, the man felt it illogical to not listen to the second.  He pressed the play button, and listened.


“Hey, Wyatt.  It’s me… again.  Look, I know the marriage counselor didn’t want us talking to one another, and I know you’re probably writing… but I miss you.  I know things haven’t been the best between us lately, but I still love you.  I understand if you’re not ready to talk, I can’t blame you.  It’s just that… ugn… I really wish you were here.  Okay… well… talk to you soon… I’m sorry to bother you.  Bye.”


Wyatt collapsed his head into his hands and began to weep.  All he wanted in that moment was to see his beloved wife once again, and to tell her that she could never bother him.  Alternatively, he knew he had been in the house for but a single day.  It was too soon to leave; he needed more time apart, they needed more time apart as a couple.  

His sorrow, however, metamorphosed into anger as he felt some sort of sinister presence mocking him and his grief.  Wyatt was comfortable opening up about his wife, but not to a devilish spectator.  He peered out the kitchen window: nothing.  Regardless, Wyatt threw the curtains shut, and continued to do this throughout the house.

Upon completion, the house was cast in further darkness.  It constricted Wyatt with melancholy and drained him of his focus and sanity.  Fretful, sweaty, and out of breath, Wyatt found himself in no state to write.  Furthermore, the paranoia failed to cease.  He looked around the room, and though he was alone, it felt like there was an immense crowd staring daggers into the man.  The tension seemed palpable, causing Wyatt to look at his phone and consider calling the police.

“No,” he told himself. “It’s just your anxiety, that’s all.  There is nothing here!  You checked!” he scolded himself.

“Don’t waste the authorities’ time, it’s all in your head,” he argued with himself.

Wyatt would spend the remainder of the day wallowing in indecision.  He battled with himself whether or not to respond to his wife.  He knew he couldn’t break the counselor’s solution after just one day.  Wyatt found himself constantly peeking over his shoulders in his state of dissolution, picturing a figure staring at him as if he were a pathetic child.  His fear never quelled, perhaps it escalated even further as he shivered his way to sunset.

With no writing completed, and with his skin crawling, Wyatt wished nothing but to sleep the remainder of his time in the house away.

“I’ll leave after tomorrow,” he assured himself. “Three days ought to be enough.”

Following this, Wyatt sent himself to the bed, where he once again found falling asleep quite harrowing.  Hours had ticked away, and the man could do nothing but toss and turn.  As his discomfort grew, however, Wyatt crawled underneath the dead-ant-filled covers.  His body itched all over, and yet he continued to hide below the covers like a toddler afraid of thunder.  Every gust of wind, and every creak of the floorboards rattled his spine and chilled his skin.  

Wyatt knew something was watching him, listening to him, or even tracking him.  What could it be?  The question gnawed at him, as if someone was flicking him in his forehead until he spat out an answer.  His phone, maybe?  No, he turned the location feature off.  Wyatt recalled tales of cunning hackers and their disturbing tricks.  Was it possible they were tracking him?  

He’d had enough of these games.  Wyatt emerged from the covers and crept to the table in the other room.  He glared down at his cell phone, which mocked his imbecilic habits and paranoia.  He swiped it from the table, carefully aiming the camera away from his face.

Wyatt creaked open the front door and stepped into the Kansas night.  The sky was filled with stars which looked down at him like the eyes of a great beast.  The cool wind brushed and groped against him like a pickpocket swiping his wallet, and the crickets chirped like children’s laughter, taunting and teasing him.

The frustrated man glanced over to his right to see a shovel resting beside the bench.  If he buried the phone, he thought, maybe it would be harder to track.  He swiped the shovel into his hands and journeyed to the left side of the house.  He stomped through the rough tallgrass, which itched him and scratched him with every passing step.  Wyatt continued to tread his way into the field, perturbed by standing in the middle of a vast open space, with a hill observing him from above, as if an intruder peeked down from behind the cover of the incline.  

He approached a small patch in the field where the tallgrass bore less density.  Wyatt assumed it would be easy to dig in that spot.  He slipped his phone in his pocket before jabbing the spade into the dry dirt, chipping it and piling it up beside his crater.

As he did this, however, Wyatt began to dread an incoming threat which seemed to slowly creep up behind him.  He believed he only grasped a small ounce of time before his phone would lead a crazed killer to his back.  The crickets continued their laughter, as Wyatt had walked into their trap.  The stars continued to gawk downward, pondering the fate of their puny, human entertainment.  Like a gladiator doomed to die, his blood would satiate their need for amusement.

Wyatt continually stabbed into the crunching dirt, every passing stroke raising the volume of the crickets until their chirps were nothing less than ear-splitting.  The man wept as he hurriedly dug, and upon creating a sizable hole in the ground, he threw his pristine, clean phone into the decrepit ground.  

He swiftly began burying the phone, dumping large chunks of dirt into the hole with his spade.  Wyatt watched in bereavement as his only connection to the outside world drowned away in the Earth.  Despite his desire to continue to be capable of hearing his wife’s voice, the encroaching danger forced his hand.  Within seconds, the hole was filled, and the crickets quieted, yet they still remained ever audible.

  Wyatt collapsed to his knees, which sank into the dusty dirt.  He pulled the wooden handle of the shovel to his cheek and he wept.  His phone was gone, and so was his way of contacting Shannon.  Separating was a stupid idea, the house was a stupid idea.  He was all alone, and now the grass, crickets, and heavens gawked and goaded the man.  He let the shovel tip and crash to the ground before plummeting his face into his palms, his tears intertwining among his fingers.  Was it worth it?  To get rid of the watchers, yet to be without Shannon?  The phone was to remain in the Earth, Wyatt decided, to prevent his paranoia from sparking again.

Again?  The man noticed no change in his head.  He still shook with every chill of the wind, he still shivered as the tallgrass swayed, and he still sank when he looked to the stars above.  The man stood to his feet, and as a stronger gust of wind brushed against his skin, he was sent fleeing back to the porch, leaving the shovel behind.  The tallgrass grazed and flayed away at Wyatt’s exposed lower legs as he ran.  He hurled himself onto the porch, feeling a pursuer nearing as he stretched for the door.  Wyatt swung open the door, feeling the clutches of some unknown abomination hovering just behind his neck and shoulders.  

He dove inside and locked the door as hastily as possible.  The man, however, felt no greater comfort within the walls of his breached castle and sprinted through the dining room to his bedroom, where he slammed the door and burrowed beneath the covers like a child.  Wyatt shivered in terror and squirmed himself into the corner of the bed, hugged by the walls.  Though it seemed as if there was an invisible man under the covers with him, Wyatt still remained.  He continued to scold himself, repeating to himself he was just uneasy about being off the grid.  Besides, the phone was buried, he thought, no one could hurt him now.  He demanded of himself just one more day at the house, just one, and then he would leave.


Day 3


Wyatt slowly pulled the covers away from his view, looking into his bedroom.  It was exactly as he recalled it.  He had experienced a tormenting, nearly restless night, and judging by the dim light which lit the room through the shut curtains, it was somewhere around late morning to noon.  He lowered the covers and made his way to the dining room.

The door creaked open and Wyatt stepped into the chilling room.  He felt like an alcoholic walking into his own intervention: watched, judged, read, yet with no explanation why.  An alcoholic, however, would eventually have it made clear to him why his loved ones gathered.  Wyatt received no such privilege.

A gust of air brushed and swung among the hair on the back of his neck, which startled the man.  He leaped several lunging steps forward before swerving behind him to stare his tormentor in the face.  Yet of course, nothing stood there.  Nothing but the AC vents above his bedroom door frame which had just kicked on. 

Wyatt said to hell with remaining in that godless place another day, he announced he must flee at once.  Alas, he could see Shannon again, and be rid of whatever allergen plagued his nerves in those wretched fields.  He threw on his denim jacket and packed his bags, all the while waiting for a voice to ask him what he was doing in such a rush.  However, the inquisitive voice never spoke.  The man slipped on his jeans, tied on his boots, and stormed to the dining room table.  Wyatt lifted the leaden typewriter into his arms, swiped the front key from off the kitchen counter, and started to the ominous door, which stood between him and the vulnerable openness.  He clambered to the door with his vintage, unwieldy machine and used his elbow to force down the handle and crack open the door, allowing a trivial amount of sunlight to bask the hardwood floors.  

Wyatt jostled his way outside, where he could sense a myriad of gawkers scowling at him and his cumbersome device.  As he approached his F-150, however, his heart sank and his skin unraveled.  He was so frightened in fact, he dropped his prized pawn shop typewriter onto the dirt road below, smashing the series of small parts and sending certain characters rolling and bouncing away.  His tires were slashed.

No longer was it just his overactive and sudden paranoia, no longer was it just unfamiliarity with new surroundings, nor the anxiety of living in another’s home.  There was someone here to claim his life.  And this sadist, sick as the worst, was clearly a cunning killer willing to stalk and wear down their prey.  Wyatt now understood calling the authorities would be the best choice of protocol, and he hurriedly sprinted behind the house, past the locked tornado shelter, and to the patch in which he buried his phone.  

Wyatt stumbled his way along the path drawn by his memory until he saw a wooden handle of a large shovel protruding from the ground in the distance, towering over the tallgrass.  He raced over to it, once again feeling as if he were a scanned document, all his thoughts out on display for an unknown perpetrator to examine.  

As he approached the patch, however, the tallgrass opening to reveal the dig site, Wyatt’s face turned pale.  Before his sight sat an empty hole, no phone, nothing.  His heart was racing.  He possessed no method of communication, nor a vehicle in which to escape.  Could he run?  No, he thought, he was in the middle of nowhere, even if he escaped off the dirt road and onto the interstate, he would be far too vulnerable.  Wyatt had crept too far into the jaws of a sleeping giant, and the giant had just woken up.  

He could see no other option but to remain hidden in the house as long as possible, maybe his silence would be noticed.  Or would it just be brushed off as committing to the separation from his wife?  Would Lou notice Wyatt’s silence?  Of course he would, he wouldn’t let someone staying in his vacation home go off the grid.  Wyatt’s shaking intensified, and he fled back around the house, past the locked tornado shelter, and up the porch and locked the door behind him.  Although, it felt less like locking someone out and more like locking himself in with another.

Wyatt’s thoughts were scattered; he needed to hide.  Where?  How?  For how long?  As he made his way to his room, he reached into his pocket and felt something strange.  He drew it from his jeans while leaning in the doorway to see the note left by Lou.  Wyatt thought it was only right to inscribe a note of his own for Shannon on the rare occasion she finds him here.

He burst into Lou’s office and scrambled rapidly for a paper and pen.  Upon finding his ingredients, he hurriedly scribbled his message:




I love you, and I always have.  Something is not right here in this house.  I had felt I was being stalked since I had arrived, and now my tires are slashed, and my phone is missing.  I don’t know if I will ever see you again, I fear my assailant will reveal himself shortly.  I love you, Shannon, and it’s because I love you that I tell you to leave this place immediately.  I’m sorry, but leave me and this place behind forever.  Maybe I may see you again in another life.


I love you,



Wyatt put a sliver of tape on the paper and ran to the front door.  He swiftly opened it and slammed the note on the door blindly before throwing the door back into place and locking it.  Following this, tears watering his vision, he sprinted back to his room, slammed the door, and dove under the bed like a child.  Wyatt’s eyes were fixed on the door, waiting for a black-booted killer to stroll his way inside.  However, as daylight became jaded, nothing happened, and Wyatt drifted to sleep shortly after sundown.  


Day 4


Wyatt awoke surrounded by darkness, a familiar tune repeating through his ears.  He struck his head on something above him as his eyes burst open.  It was then he recalled drifting to slumber beneath the safety of the bed.  His eyes and ears adjusted to his surroundings, clearing his vision and continuing to hear the repetition of the jingle coming from the other room.  Something was too familiar about it, like he had heard it many times before yet paid little attention to it.  His heart sank as he realized the sound was his phone ringing.

Wyatt continued to cling to the hardwood floors of the bedroom as the jingle concluded, believing the killer was inside the house.  However, the ringtone began its melodic song once again moments after it had ended.  What if it was Shannon?  Could Wyatt hear her voice again?  

It was then his fear began to tremble.  He insisted on hearing his wife again.  The man emerged from under his bed and tiptoed to the bedroom doorway.  He creaked the door open as quietly as its aged hinges could, peering into the room.  Nothing had changed, except for one thing.  This one thing, however, sent chills down Wyatt’s spine, only his love for Shannon keeping him fixed on the macabre sight.  The padlock on the door to the tornado shelter hung from its loop on the frame, and the door was gaping open.  Furthermore, the ringtone continued to sing from down below.  

Wyatt gulped, and in his state of paralysis, he pondered.  Would it be worth it?  If he remained in his room, would he be found regardless?  Could he bargain with his captor to speak to his wife one final time?  The man was growing desperate.  The jingle once again came to an end, leaving the dark house in silence aside from the old ticking clock, which displayed it was one o’clock in the morning.  Wyatt had his eyes fixed on the mouth of the tornado shelter, staring into its black oblivion, awaiting some ski-masked killer to emerge from its lips.  

However, the only thing to leave the clutches of the doorway was the sound of his phone once again blaring its ringtone.  Wyatt exhorted to himself that he must investigate.  No one other than Shannon would call him this many times after failing to connect.  The man crept back to his nightstand and equipped himself with the flashlight he had used to investigate the vents in his room.  

Subsequently, Wyatt trod into the dining room and turned on his light, scanning the room.  Perhaps if he stormed down into the shelter with his light, he would terrify the intruder away.  He began excessively stomping as he approached the doorway, and as he stood looking down along the dark staircase, he shouted, in the deepest voice he could muster:

“Hey!  Hey!  On the floor, I have a knife… and a gun!”

There was no answer aside from the careless carrying on of the ringtone.

“I-I’m warning you!  C-come on into the light!” he stuttered out, sneaking down the creaking, old steps.

Wyatt stumbled onto the floor of the shelter and swerved his flashlight into the interior, dropping it to the floor.  His heart skipped several beats and his tongue could do nothing but spout confused gibberish.  Before him, a figure had its back turned to the man, the light of the ringing cell phone illuminating its untextured silhouette.  Wyatt could do nothing but stand, shiver, and stare at the figure, who regarded his presence with apathetic silence.  Before long, the ringtone concluded, casting the room in darkness aside from the dim angling of the dropped flashlight.

Just then, the sound of the decrepit hinges of the shelter door squealed throughout the chamber as it slammed shut, its force echoing and thumping within Wyatt’s head.  Nevertheless, he persisted in his gawking at the figure.

Then, the nude, balded silhouette began to slowly rotate, now facing its victim.  Observing the shape, it appeared as if it were hugging itself, yet there was something far more aberrant than its stance: its feet.  They appeared to not be of any human anatomy.  They were wide and flat, and bore reflective black talons.  Then, the silhouette just stood there, staring at the man, yet no eyes reflected the glare of the flashlight.  

The thing then outstretched its arms and spread its fingers, highlighting their razor-sharp claws.  Subsequently, off from its head, outstretched a smaller pair of arms from where its ears should be, bearing the same organic blades.  Wyatt found himself tranced in paralysis as the thing silently and gracefully stepped toward him and into the light. 

This light, however, only revealed that which Wyatt hoped not to see.  The begrimed monstrosity bore no eyes, nor did it posses a mouth, and its deep ears were pierced into the thing’s four palms.  Its grey skin boasted of asymmetric lumps erroneously molded into its wrinkly person.  As the creature approached, however, the shadows danced and flooded the shapes of these lumps, and revealed them to be a collection of hands embedded in its gluttonous epidermis.  Then, as it stood mere feet from the petrified man, a deep, ominous voice echoed into Wyatt’s head.

“I had been observing you for several days, Wyatt Hillary.  Your thoughts, your worries, your deepest desires were all uncovered.”

Wyatt could say nothing as his face turned pale by the abstract experience.

“You have been unnerved by my presence, uneased by my way of learning,” it said, “There is no way to escape this, as your mind, your thoughts, and your free will are mine to boast.  You may run to the ends of the Earth, swim to the depths of the deepest seas, and soar to the furthest stars and I will never fail to remain all around you, and nowhere near you.  I will hear every thought, know every move, and feast on our shared mind.”

Just then, the phone began to ring once again, and the thing approached Wyatt further, its arms encroaching on the sides of his head.

“I trade knowledge for the eradication of pain.  An address and a padlock pattern for courage to buy a home in the metropolis.  You wish to see your loved one again, and it shall be done.  You may see her smile, hear her voice, and gaze into her kind eyes.  And in turn, I may satiate my thirst.  I possess limitless knowledge on any soul, and therefore I keep them safe from the anguish of reality.”

Just then, the cold, dismal flesh of the creature’s palms pressed against Wyatt’s cheeks and its fingers wrapped around his head.  A searing pain drilled into the man’s head, forcing him to cry out in agony.  It felt as if his very free reign of thought were being stripped away from his being.  In rapid time, his vision turned pale, and he drifted away into a sea of white.

Wyatt awoke in a familiar room, on familiar bed sheets.  No longer did he itch on the old covers of Lou’s house, but he was now in his warm home.  Just then, the bedroom door gently opened, and in walked a familiar figure.  Was it really her?  Yes, alas, Wyatt was reunited with his beloved Shannon!  He sat up on his cushioned mattress and smiled with glee as his wife approached him.

“Oh, good,” she said with a smile, “you’re finally awake, how are you, honey?” she asked, sitting along the side of the bed and caressing him softly.

Wyatt bore no words as he fell enamored in his love’s crystal eyes and snow-white smile, and hypnotized by her siren’s voice.  He couldn’t help but laugh and tear up as he looked into his wife.  Everything was just perfect, he had told himself.  So flawless, in fact, he fell into a trance too unbreakable to allow himself to sense the aberration that was this perfection.  He was home, and with the person he cared about most.  What more could Wyatt want?  Perhaps it didn’t seem real, perhaps his wife’s smile was too angelic to not be sinister.  But would it matter if it weren’t real?  Would it be so awful to live in a perfect, false reality without your own awareness?  After all, reality can often depress and disappoint.

In actuality, Wyatt was not with his wife, not that he knew this, of course.  The real Wyatt lay in the tornado shelter.  His throat was torn out, as to not speak against the lies.  His eyes were sewn shut, so he could not see the truth.  His ears were removed, as to not hear the whispers of liberation.  His hands were missing entirely, no longer could he feel reality, nor could he bend it to his whims.  His tongue too was removed, as to not detect the sour flavor of the real world, and lastly, his nose was sliced off his face, denying him the ability to smell the stench of his own rotting corpse, a corpse left to decay in a lonely house in Kansas.


Prophets From the Stars

A series of bright lights and an unnerving hum wake Hank Gregory in the middle of the night. He steps outside to investigate, but finds something he would never forget.

My view on the theme of this story has admittedly changed over time, but regardless I consider this piece to be an inspiration to myself and I hope for you as well.



Prophets From the Stars

The serenity of Hank Gregory’s slumber was oddly interrupted as a baleful hum loomed over his isolated home. The man’s eyes slowly opened, his vision clouded in darkness and the only color managing to barely meet his gaze was his dirtied and sheetless white mattress sitting below the man’s drool and facial whiskers.

The sweating man used his calloused hands to perch himself upwards, thereby making himself able to scan the dark room through his tired eyes. However, he saw nothing, everything was as he had left it. His alarm clock continued to blink red with the incorrect time that he failed to fix, several empty beer cans and bottles littered the floor and his nightstand, his box fan was quietly purring like a kitten, and a tear-soaked photograph of his estranged family rested on a decrepit brown shelf, its lower right corner stained with black scorch marks.

However, just as Hank scoffed and prepared to rest his wretched soul upon the mattress once again and pay his disturbance no mind, the hum returned, this time louder and more mobile. It seemed to whistle its way from one side of his home to the other.

With this, it came to pass that a bold blue light bled through the translucent blinds which obscured the man’s bedside window. Hank’s room bathed in the swift lambency from outside, causing his tired eyes to jump open and his old heart to beat like a youth. He swung himself to the floor as fast as his middle-aged and rotund body could do so. He stepped to the window, his feet cracking as he walked across the carpeted floor.

Hank brushed the blinds to the walls, subsequently scanning the outside through the dirtied window. His jaw dropped as a wave of awe overcame him and infected him with a sudden obsessive interest with the moving light. It elegantly danced over his house once again, leaving the grassy plains, distant cornfields, and empty road once again absorbed in the darkness of night, only the watchful stars glowing from above.

However, as the blue light from the unknown perpetrator began to brighten as it neared the window once again, Hank turned and rushed to his bedroom door. He hobbled his way through the living room and the connected kitchen, the former littered with empty chip bags and the latter with cockroaches. Subsequent to this, the man threw open his front door and stumbled down the porch in nothing but his blue, striped boxers and his sweat-stained white undershirt.

Hank hustled his way to the open grass located to the side of his house, his jaw dropping as he gazed upon the aerial blue light floating above. He stopped his running as he saw this, taking a moment to breathe uncontrollably before finally seeing behind the light what was casting it upon the quiet nighttime countryside: a broad hovering saucer composed of an elegantly reflective alloy, the images upon its shell waving like a gentle stream. The beings inside the thing, in whatever form they may take, seemed to understand that they had been discovered, the blinding lights then laxing, only a few glowing spots remaining along the rim of the craft.

The man couldn’t believe his eyes; never before had he believed in the hokum of UFOs or aliens from other planets. However, as the mystified man stood paralyzed in the face of the foreign craft, a new light suddenly kindled and blasted towards him. Hank felt himself crudely restrained, his hands and feet slamming together and his posture immediately straightening, his back cracking as such a force handled him. Hank had never been more uncomfortable in all of his life, not because of the way he was handled, but due to the fact that he was. He had no control and he felt like a helpless toy being handled by a toddler. Just as this occurred, however, the man felt his feet begin to lift off of the ground, the tips of the grass brushing against his skin. The man’s heart sank as he continued to rise higher and higher off of the ground, his eyes darting every which way as he found himself floating in the air while being the subject of the UFO’s glare.

Hank’s skin curled and his spine shivered as he believed the moments in which he encountered were his last. Never before had the man found himself in the face of such horror, not due to a fear of death, but due to the fear that he had yet to truly live. He hadn’t seen his family in years, his son had even graduated college by then. He remembered receiving an invitation from his stranger of a son, yet the guilt of leaving his boy glancing at an empty seat beside his mother’s continued to haunt him with many evenings of tears. No boy should have to be left in the dark, never truly knowing why his father never made a damn effort to see him. That’s why Hank feared his impending death; he knew he never had the courage to tell his boy the truth, he never had the courage to be a man of his word and spend time with his son. The divorce court was to blame when Hank lost custody of his son many moons ago, and even though his boy was an adult now, exempt from the laws of child custody, Hank had yet to muster the strength to face his child. He would be a stranger to his son, and his son would be a stranger to him. They hardly even knew what each other looked like. No father should be stripped of his boy in such a way, knowing that he continues to grow as a human being and as a man while failing to witness such a remarkable process. Hank shed a tear, realizing he would never get the chance to make amends with his own child, nor would he get the pleasure of getting to know him either. However, just as the man truly believed this, a pleasant, professional voice echoed in his mind.

“Don’t worry,” it comforted, “I’m almost done. Just another moment, please.”

With this, another light with a grid pattern flickered towards the man’s feet, subsequently climbing up his legs, then his torso, then even to his head. Then, the light flickered away and Hank began to descend back towards the ground.

“It’s finished, Hank,” the amiable voice assured, “I’m all done, I just needed a quick scan, that’s all.”

Alas, Hank felt his feet once again press against the rough, dry grass of the countryside, his mind racing as he was slowly being set free from the saucer’s grasp. Was it true, then? Were aliens real? Had they truly been flying above the man all the while and he simply never believed it? Hank called out to the queer spaceship, an obsession boiling within him as he became desperate to know the truth.

“Wait!” he cried.

He was met with a neglectful silence.

“Let me see you! Please! I want to see you! Are you real?! Are you actually freaking real?!”

The UFO continued to hum and whistle, glaring down at Hank from above. However, within a moment’s passing, another bold blue light beamed from the ship, three tall, shadowy figures smoothly dropping from the saucer’s hull and landing on the ground.

Hank shielded his eyes with his hands and his face averted from the harsh glow of the illumination. However, this light soon relaxed, allowing the man to trepidatiously remove his hands from his eyes and peer out at the figures. The three were still obscured by an amount of blue light which opted to remain, yet their form was undeniable: aliens.

The three towered over the man and were as thin as rails with plump, gray heads atop their skinny necks. They possessed no facial features, however, at least not that the light revealed aside from of course two large, black eyes which watched the man and made him uneasy in his gut. Additionally, the three were donned in elegant white robes beneath beautiful golden pauldrons, the colors of their garb completely untainted by the elements of Earth.

“Mother of God,” Hank expressed. “Tell me something,” he requested, “Please, is there something you can tell me?”

The alien standing in the middle of the three’s formation tilted its head ever so slightly, its dark eyes still locked on the pleading human before it.

“You have complied with our efforts and you have asked me for the boon of knowledge,” the alien began, its voice echoing inside of Hank’s head, “hence I agree to provide an answer to any one query which you present to me.”

Hank’s mind descended into a rushing turmoil of thought, conjuring a question he could ask the Delphic astral prophet. He pressured himself not to waste such an opportunity, believing the sentinels before him could potentially insight a revelation within him, one that could end his tired, withered life and start it anew. The man considered his alcoholism, his evenings of countless tears, and the fact that his son was moving along with his life while Hank saw none of it. Everything in his life had crumbled, he didn’t even desire a solution, there was none to speak of. Rather, he wished to know why he must have been subjected to such despondency. He wanted to know why he had to live with such suffering.

“What is the meaning of life?” the wretched man asked.

“A superb inquiry,” the alien complimented, “The question which you have asked of me has plagued the minds of many of your people and mine across the entirety of time’s expanse. Some would be so foolish as to claim that there is no meaning to such a constant cycle of prosperity and ruin, some will say that this often agonizing experience is a gift. Rather, it is both a gift and an opportunity. Additionally, it may be found as a curse as opposed to a gift.”

“I don’t understand,” Hank admitted.

“The experience of life may be a gift from one’s predecessors, or perhaps it may be a curse if one’s predecessors had regressed during their days, thereby burdening the inheritors of the world with the place which they have molded. With this, enters the opportunity. No world nor any one thing can be truly perfect, hence they can improve indefinitely. It is not the meaning of life but rather the duty of those who live to therefore leave the world in which they were born as a superior world for the generation which will replace them. If the pain you feel is truly excruciating, you would wish no such thing upon an innocent soul. Therefore, you must improve the very world in which you inhabit if you wish to cease such pain from afflicting any other soul. In one day or in many more, all living things will perish. Is it not best to assure ourselves upon our deaths that we have made others happier and the pain we felt would be reduced for the new people?”

Hank stammered with his tongue, unable to find words in which to offer the alien. He knew not whether to express his gratitude or again ask for clarification. As a result of his indecisiveness, the extraterrestrial oracles fizzled into the blue light of the craft, disappearing from sight. Hank watched as the UFO slowly hummed louder and louder, the peak of its song’s intensity swiftly approaching. Suddenly, the ship erupted with lambency so blinding, it caused Hank to shield his eyes and collapse to the ground.

“Goodbye, Hank,” said the voice of the alien, its voice echoing away in the man’s head, never to be heard again.

The man opened his eyes, the light absent and only the darkness of the countryside and the chirping of the crickets meeting his senses. It was as if the saucer had never encountered his withered lands. The ship had vanished. Hank was left nothing but dazed and delirious.

He stumbled to his feet and once again scanned his surroundings. He saw nothing. The aliens had left him with nothing but their answer to his question. He recalled how the cosmic oracles had told him that it was his duty to improve the world and the condition of the generation that would replace him. The man wept, for he hadn’t even been able to do so for his own son. So was that it, then? Would his own boy be subjected to the same unfulfillment and misery as he had himself? Hank looked at his calloused and wrinkled hands and brushed them along the gray hairs of his aged arms. Was it already too late for the aging wretch? The man turned to his driveway where he caught a glimpse of his old car, the vehicle almost as beaten and battered as its owner. But nevertheless, and much like its owner, the thing could run if it needed to do so. So no, the man hadn’t lost hope. He could still see his boy, he could still make things right.

The Architect of Solitude

In a moment of crisis, Matt finds himself mentally grappling with a beast. The monster manipulates, frightens, and torments the young man, all the while its malign intentions are unknown.

This story took a long time to move from my notebook to the page, but I knew this story deserved to be written, mostly because of the personal significance the conflict in the story holds for me. To put it simply: this piece was inspired by my own battles with depression.


The Architect of Solitude


Chapter 1

The phone shook in Matt’s trembling hands, the white glow of the screen acting as the sole source of light in the dark apartment. On the screen was displayed a series of messages between Matt and his old friend Pam, such messages long cold from the time of silence. The young man had barely texted his friend since he moved away from home, and now he watched the insertion point in the text box. It blinked at a constant rate, over and over again, taunting the wretch as the very beat of its flicker thumped with the rhythm of his heavy heart. Could he do it? Could he message such a dear friend after so long?

“She will not care,” said a voice. It was a dark and twisted voice, the very flutter of its pessimistic words echoing with evil and misery. “You are nothing to her, only a faint memory long ago swept away by the voracious winds of time.”

This voice was nothing new to Matt, for it had haunted him regardless of his location for several years. Yet alas, the young man had grown sickened by the abuse that the voice inflicted upon him. Setting his phone onto the kitchen table, and rising from the chair, Matt finally turned and gazed upon the speaker of such a foul voice.

What the young man saw was a grotesque monster, yet the ghastly sight did not faze him, for the company of the beast over such a prolonged period had prepared him for such a thing. The monster appeared to be a crude mockery of a man in the nude, its belly was swollen, and its hairless skin was pale with a seam running down its face and gut. Adorning the tips of its fingers were long, black claws that nearly met the length of its forearms and its aged face possessed holes where eyes and a mouth would be, and yet nothing but a void rested behind them.

Matt shivered, but he did not flee, nor did he fear for his life. No, he knew the monster had no intention of killing him with those menacing claws, but with the lies of its shadowy tongue. However, the young man was admittedly unnerved, he was unnerved that such a foul thing could dwell in his home sanctuary.

Matt returned his eyes to his phone, and, slowly picking it up, he exited his messaging application and turned off the device, the screen becoming black as night, the dim room descending into darkness, only a weak streetlamp piercing through the haphazardly arranged blinds arranged before a window.

“Yeah,” Matt conceded, “you’re right. I don’t mean a thing to her.”

“And don’t go crying to Jack or Spencer either,” the monster ordered. “For they do not care for you as well.”

“You’re lying,” Matt retaliated.

“Am I?” the monster taunted. “Jack only talks to you when he needs something, yes?”

Matt gave no response.

“And let us not forget Spencer, who, and let’s be honest, is more of an acquaintance than a true friend. He spends his valuable time so liberally with others and yet he is always too busy for you. Strange, is it not?”

Matt began to pace, averting his eyes from the monster and scratching his brown hair with his untrimmed fingernails. He kicked the old, stained couch that sat in the middle of the cramped apartment, releasing a grunt as his foot made contact with the furniture. With this, he approached the front door, slipping on his shoes and donning his navy blue jacket.

“Where are you going?” the monster asked.

“For a walk,” Matt hissed.

With this, the young man grabbed his keys and his phone and opened the door, stepping outside into the cool night and slamming the door behind him. The air was fresh and euphoric, its natural beauty liberating him from the stuffy confines of his wretched apartment. With a sigh, Matt turned his back to the door and stepped down into the parking lot of the isolated apartment complex, a long stretch of streetlights flanking the road, trees lurking behind their ranks and stars flickering overhead, a chorus of crickets filling the air. Matt started along the road, putting his hands in his pockets and relishing the outdoors. Alas, a taste of freedom.

Chapter 2

Matt passed by the woods and walked alongside a cornfield, his shoes tapping along the desolate road, the moon watching him from above, the stars dotting the night sky. Gazing up at the vastness of the universe, the young man couldn’t help but note how small–how meaningless– he was. He was but a single soul on a rock in an inhospitable void. What value did his life carry? What meaning did his joy possess? Was that it then? Was life all a grandiose illusion, was his pain and worth truly without value?

Matt’s thoughts would soon be interrupted, however, for the light of the moon reflected off of several metallic crafts parked on the right side of the road in the distance, the roof of a house peering at the young man from over the tips of the corn stalks. It seemed someone was hosting a celebration, the metal crafts of course being a row of cars belonging to the attendants. Matt had never been to a party, not that he was ever invited to one. Yet it seemed to him that such an event was a crucial component of certain age groups, but there the young man was: alone, falling behind, and ignored.

Matt rounded the row of cars as he approached them, walking near the center of the silent road. As he journeyed closer to the house, he could see and hear a trio of young men, about his age, maybe a little older, chatting in the driveway. The biggest of the men chuckled and the others smiled and shook their heads at the conversation, yet even still it seemed to Matt that the men were amused by his wretchedness. He had moved far from home into a small, rural town with the hopes of working with his entrepreneurial friend. Unfortunately, this so-called friend of his hired a local by the time Matt had arrived at the town, leaving him to race to find a job, a search that had yet to conclude.

As the young man walked by the three men, their chorus of laughter hushed into silence, their heads following his movements.

“Hey,” one of them greeted, “How are you?”

Matt froze, turning and facing the men.

“I’m fine, and you?” he stuttered.

“Pretty good,” the man said, squinting his eyes and focusing on Matt. “I don’t think I’ve seen you before,” he began, “Did you just move to town?”

Matt nodded, “Yeah.”

The man smiled. “Well, if you want, you’re more than welcome to come in, have a drink or two if you’d like.”

A genuine smile crossed Matt’s face, his eyes gleaming with joy. “Sure, thank you!” he exclaimed.

Matt took a few steps forward, approaching the other men. However, his vision became fuzzy and his legs became numb. His head rocked with a weight that could not be managed and his face became as white as a ghost. The young man rubbed his eyes, the simple action seeming to be the remedy to his condition. Matt then opened his eyes to nothing other than a nightmare incarnate.

Before him no longer stood the three amiable men, but three identical recreations of the monster. They stared at him with their voids for eyes, tilting their heads to the side in unison as they slowly stepped towards him, wiggling their fingers adorned with the black claws. They then halted, bringing one of their claws each to their bald heads and digging it in the seam that split the epidermis, thick, blackened blood oozing from the wounds. Then, once again in impeccable unison, they peeled back their skin to reveal a most horrid form lurking beneath. The creatures below the skin were built out of black, rotting flesh, a wicked grimace filled with crooked teeth crossing the entirety of the creatures’ faces, a feat beyond impossible for any human grin. They also possessed genuine eyes, orbs of white light that pierced through the darkness of the night and shivered the spine of Matt, the unfortunate soul unlucky enough to bear witness to such a twisted visage.

The young man wasted no time. He turned around and ran back towards his apartment complex, his eyes wide and his face pale, his sneakers pounding on the pavement. Matt tried to escape, but nevertheless, his monster always lingered around every corner. It could not be avoided.

Chapter 3

Matt rushed to his door and rummaged through his pockets for his keys. He drew them out and opened the door, hurriedly throwing himself inside before slamming the door behind him. The young man panted, leaning against the door with his eyes shut.

“Back already?” the monster taunted, standing in the corner of the room.

Matt opened his eyes and glanced at the horrid thing. “Shut up,” he scoffed. He removed himself from up against the door and began to pace, drawing his phone from his pocket and eyeing it anxiously.

“You know what?” he started, turning to face the monster with his eyes wide and arced. “I’m going to say hi to Pam. I’m sure she would love to hear from me!”

The monster unleashed a song of malign cachinnation, one that made Matt lose his courage and become physically and emotionally fatigued. “You don’t get it, do you?” it began, “She doesn’t care about you. She once did, but not anymore.”

A tear slid down Matt’s reddened cheek.

“As for the others: Jack and Spencer,” the monster continued, “They never cared for you.”

Matt sniffled. “So?”

The monster twisted its frowned mouth into the vague shape of a smile’s mockery. “Block their numbers. Jack first, then Spencer. Leave them behind you.”

Matt scrolled through his phone’s contacts until he located Jack, a tear splattering on the screen, prompting him to wipe it away with his finger. He then hovered his finger anxiously over the block icon, shivering as he prepared to do what the monster instructed. He tapped the icon, and just like that, Matt’s ability to contact Jack was permanently disabled. Spencer was next, but ultimately the young man executed the deed demanded of him. Gone like smoke in the wind, Spencer and Jack could be reached no longer. Thus, gone were two people that Matt had seemingly confused for friends.

“Now Pam,” the monster ordered.

Matt looked at the creature with wide, teary eyes. “No,” he refused, “I can understand Jack, I can understand Spencer, but no, not Pam, never Pam.”

“And do you believe she would say the same for you?” the monster asked, “I think not, I think you are deluded, lost in an infatuation with one who does not love you. Such an existence is sentencing yourself to eternal pain, lingering onto forlorn affections as she moves on and forgets you.”

Matt believed the monster to be correct, Pam never sought to contact him first, therefore did she wish to hear from him at all? The young man’s eyes festered with tears as he scrolled to find Pam in his contacts. He once again held his trembling finger over the block icon, reliving all the memories of jokes and quality time he had experienced with her. He wished he could, at the very least, say goodbye, but alas, would she care? Matt tapped the icon, and with this, Pam was gone, far away and unable to be reached.

The young man shambled over to the couch and fell down into it, sobbing as he realized what he had done. He loved Pam, he loved how she had helped him through his darkest days long ago. But now she was gone, and he would have to face his monster alone.

“I’ve won,” the creature chuckled maniacally, shivering Matt’s skin and chilling his very bones. “Now you’re alone, alone with me.”

With such words, Matt watched helplessly, paralyzed by terror, as the monster dug its claw into the seam on its head. It peeled back the skin, once again revealing the nightmarish creature made from blackened flesh. However, the abomination dug its claw beneath the rotting flesh as well, and thus it peeled it back too as a means to reveal an even more horrid layer of the beast. Finally, in his state of petrification, Matt saw the final layer of monster, finding himself looking at his own face staring daggers back at him.