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Short Stories

In the Flesh Part 1:

A tale from Magpie Stories, what would happen if you found a book and helped to tell its story? We all know no harm can come from a story… right?

A Small Dedication:

I begin this story with something unusual. A thank you, while crafting this narrative I decided to livestream the process. What a world we live in! While I expected the grand total of ZERO people to watch one voice came through loud and clear. One that commented on what I was doing, gave suggestions and support. In these times of being isolated and staying at home, it was like talking to a friend and sharing ideas. In short, I would like to thank TheBogs Official for all the input. (links here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpYCj8DQ3ODUuh6tFgIGFrA https://linktr.ee/TheBogs_Official )


So, a weird thing, my wife and I moved into a new house in March of last year. It’s an old Victorian property somewhere in the Midlands. The people we bought it off were nice and said they had done some repairs and an extension. Anyway, I am getting off the point, about three in the morning there was a crash, the kind that wakes you up and you think oh crap.

So, I rushed downstairs, to the cupboard under the stairs (bit Harry Potter I know) and saw that part of floor had buckled causing all the crap you keep under the stairs to crash to the floor. Well in repairing this I found a notebook, you know the ones, like you have for uni, spiral bound about A5 size. I put them to one side.

About an hour later all was fixed and I was about to throw all the crap and detritus away. Well being a nosy sod, flicked through the pages of that notebook I mentioned. It was written in a scruffy hand and I read a page, flicked through and read some more. It was really interesting, and I presume must have been for a book that was never written. So, I thought I would post the words here (I have edited it slightly). I will put bits and pieces up from time to time so here is what I have transcribed so far (I always liked the idea of being a writer so this is a good excuse to give it a go). To whoever wrote this initially, please get in contact with me if you see this!

Narrated Version Here

The body looked as if it had been unzipped from throat to navel, ichor hanging in thick spider webs as gobbets of flesh dressed the floor in an uneven organic carpet. The silence was haunting as the lens caught the movements, unnatural and erratic, like it had turned off and on, the lithe hairless body suddenly appearing in another physical location. The screen blinked its pixels as it played back the scene.

I stood there, aghast at what I saw. In silent grey and black. Things that belong inside a person were strewn over the ground, the walls, the ceiling. In those sepia greys my mind can see and her that primal colour of red. Thickened strings connecting to a central hub of the now empty shell twitch and vibrate in rhythm with it with the thing. Though I only catch glimpses of it, long teeth getting darker as it feeds, as it made its way through the meal. I could only watch, not moving, not breathing.

Thickened strings connecting to a central hub of the now empty shell twitch and vibrate in rhythm with it with the thing.

Those moving images are seared into my brain. Even now I can list off the features as I remembered them from that cold and silent screen. The distended pale belly, constantly stretching as more organic material was jammed into its maw, the widening throat. The disturbing rippling movements from under its skin. It had more appendages than it should have but the movement made it hard to count. The legs, of which there were several terminated in feet but no toes, just blade like edges that caused gauges in the stonework, forcing it into a permanent predatory crouch. The slitted holes in the head above and below the mouth flared constantly, twitching like antennae in what looked like excitement. The tongue vomited from the mouth, branching like the roots of a tree, appearing black on the screen, wrapping around the remnants of the person that had only moments ago been whole. It ate them from the feet up.

The final progression was to the head the prehensile, forking and branching tongue wrapped delicately around the skull. It must have exerted a huge pressure, bone glinted and finally erupted from the thin covering of skin. For a moment the eyes bulged, expanding like the eyes of a tarsier. The maw opened again, the belly distended further, and the head disappeared it just… it just disappeared.

This being then hovered in the gloom, taking in all the organic material, no trace of the person was left. Things disappeared, blood, bile, nails, hair all gone, even the clothing. And I was staring at a blank screen, the one that only, well, some time ago had contained a frightened looking person, pacing backwards and forward in the M1 line.

I was a tourist to this part of the world. Clutching my own paper book of metro tickets, three of the ten sheets neatly punched with a regular polygonal shape to void their use. The ticket hollow and valueless like the life of the person I had seen. I had seen and no one else, alone on the oldest line in that old city. The country of fairy tales, and bold Magyar that defended from invaders from the East. Of dragons and demons and vampires. All the gothic stuff, but that was not real. That was not real, I knew it was not real.

Time passed, I know that because I had pissed myself in and the initial heat had been comforting but now was cold, lifeless, stinking. Like the screen I had been staring at. Dead and cold. Without warmth, blank and joyless. I stood as this thing consumed all, the large pale eyes not searching. It must have used something.

I was found, eventually. Found soiled and silent until some physical contact had me babbling, I was incoherent. But even as the increasingly official personnel turned up, I could not have communicated properly, the language gap too great. Hungarian was unlike any of the European languages I was vaguely familiar with, no Germanic or Latin routes. Complete ignorance of how to say anything except thank you.

I pointed at the screen and sobbed, trying to be understood. I was taken from the station to another form of station, this with the familiar iconography and spelling in blue of Police. In broken English I was told various things; I was locked in a room with a cup of water and a table. My laces, belt and anything stringy was removed. My heart was still beating erratically, and I had been given grey soft trousers to wear. In the reflection of a mirror, I saw just how hollow and pale I looked. My fight or flight response was totally gone, I just wanted to be away from the images and memory of that thing.

The door handle moved. Slowly. Being tested, the agonising soft sound of metal grinding against metal was being resonated within my brain. Each sound, each movement being consciously checked for danger. Imagine all your senses on high alert all the time. The shock and constant flooding of adrenaline from your body telling you something is wrong. After a shock the body recovers over time I am told.

The door flung itself opened I screamed. I yelled, but I did not, could not move.

I forgot what happened next, my next conscious memory was of explaining about the experience as faces turned from one emotion to the other. From sympathy to concern to nods and sighs. All of them, I would come to realise were ones that faked the concern for me and really were just the signs of those who want to ensure that there was no mania that could burst out of control. I was asked “so, this person you saw…” open ended questions and doubt. “Mr Murphy you cannot really think that.”

I begged, I pleaded for them to look at the tapes, the screen I had been looking at.

The tapes eventually came. I was seated. Still in the new clothes, still sweating still palpitating. The tape played, the person, as I described walking backwards and forwards, then a fizz from the player, bars of increasing thickness and erratic patterns, to blankness. Nothing.

The tapes were wound forward but nothing. The police had been to the scene on the now deserted platform. Nothing. There was nothing. The police turned me away. Out of the security of walls and bars and men with guns. As I was escorted out of the building, I noticed a woman mouth something and cross herself, holding the Magyar or Patriarchal cross, two parallel bars of the horizontal cross atop a crooked stake glinting coldly between her fingers.

Even days later I cannot shake the feelings of being watched, hunted. Each shadow is a threat, the remaining days I have left here are in my hotel room, quizzical looks from the staff as I ask for more and more lights. I drink Tokay and coffee, glass after glass and cup after cup until my pores smell like those of an alcoholic trying to sober up after a bender. There is no news of anyone missing that I can make out.

Every so often I think I can hear the sound of erratic footsteps on the wooden floor of the hotel. Tapping a rhythm of discordance. I just want to be home. Across a continent and with the sea between me and this place. Five days, five days then I can get on that plane home.

I am not too proud to admit it, I am terrified.

By magpiestories

An English teacher by trade, an author at heart, it only took a global pandemic for me to start writing my first novel. Along the way, I found a love for creating shorter fiction which I share on this site along with some updates and (hopefully) useful writing tips.

I hope you have a... pleasant time reading.

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