She was small, but not small in a traditional sense. Her frame was wasted like someone who was suffering from emaciation. Stick thin, her face’s skin was stretched tight and her cheeks hollowed to a corpse-like perfection.
She’d been huddling in the dark of the shadows waiting for little Shelley to fall asleep. Then she had gotten up from her crouch, her white colonial nightgown dirty but untorn. She had not worn a night cap and her long raven hair hung straight past her shoulders. She walked to the bed and looked at the child as she slept, her sunken dark ringed eyes taking in the child as she lay dreaming of unicorns and fairies and all those childish things that have yet to become fantasy and nightmares.
“So, is she the job for the night?” Emit asked as he peeked his head out from under the bed. The monster’s face was blasted and bent. His red and black fur was clumped and left exposed swatches of decaying and wrecked gray flesh.
“I guess.” Jezebel said, feigning disinterest as she watched a troop of goblins come out of the closet and start setting up strobes and other pyrotechnic equipment that would make a big bang in a very short amount of time. They had to be quiet, but they also had to be quick. The Necros, the foul beings that had enslaved the Night Side and were forcing them to do their bidding, had demanded a step up in the process tonight. Long had they existed upon the ingestion of a child’s fear, but they had found a way to capitalize on the energies that they had fed on and were no longer satisfied with the taste of the fear that they received from scaring a child. They had found a way to gorge themselves. They had found out how to scare them to death. “I hate this.”
Jezebel and Emit were Night Sides. Just as most of the others, they couldn’t escape the Necros’ control. Rebellions have been tried, but have always ended badly. The leader of the group was singled out and the others were slowly slaughtered in front of him, but they would not kill the leader.
This was Jezebel’s second group and she tried not to think of the others, because when she did she couldn’t stop crying. Emit and Ghoul, who was dozing three feet over the girl waiting for the show to begin, had been her friends just as long as the others had been and she could not let that happen to them too. She thought of the Necros, sitting so pompous on their starlight thrones waiting for the influx of energies that would come from the screaming human child and the hundreds of others that would die tonight. She could fight them, but all that would do is kill more of her friends. The Necros were cruel and would keep her alive for nothing other than spite and since death was not a natural luxury like the human child. She knew that she would be forever a slave.
Jezebel stood before the girl, gliding her finger just beyond contact with the girls cheek, letting the child have just a few more seconds of peace before the fear began; before the murder. “We don’t have to do this you know? We can run.”
“Where? They’d just find us, and you’ve seen what they do to runaways.” The group that last escaped still slaved for the Necros, but they were far worse off now for their attempt at freedom. Two had been killed in front of the others, and they had been forced to bear witness. The other six were left maimed and mangled, yet still alive, but with pains that would never heal.
“I ain’t scared of those…” Emit said.
“Shush.” A goblin whispered and pointed at the window of the child’s room where a crow stood watching them from a branch in a tree. “I want to see my wife and kids again sir.” The goblin said through bared teeth.
Emit gave the crow outside of the window a weary look. “Sorry, Gary,” he said to the goblin. “I didn’t know we had a gawker.”
“Let’s just hope the little feathered informant didn’t hear your rant, or we will all pay for your tongue.” The goblin said as it hung little nooses from the ceiling. They were quickly detachable and gave off the appearance of strung up animals in the darkness. Appearance was all that they really needed. The child’s fear would take care of the rest.
A sound like the quiet tearing of paper issued through the room. It was the sound of a Funnel coming through the fabric of reality. Jezebel looked to the corner to see the tall, gaunt creature. Its saucer plate, mirror ball eyes reflected them all as it shambled its way out of the dark. The sight of the thing frightened even her. Its skin stretched the point where it had ripped over the bones in places, and the skin seemed even paler then the bone underneath. It did not speak, just stood looking at them all with bent head, inquiring why they had not started yet.
Jezebel started crying and Emit hugged her close to him. “We’ll figure it out kid.” He said. “We’ll figure it out.”
Jezebel looked at him but there was no smile, just pain and regret that came from a life that you had to live but could not control. She reached over and nudged Ghoul awake. “It’s time.”
Ghoul gave her a weary look and then flipped himself in the air to face the girl.
“I’m so sorry.” She whispered to the girl that slept so sound before her.
The Funnel watched as they began, ready to feed itself and its masters.
Kevin J. MacLeod lives in Missouri with his wife and his animals where he works all day and writes all night. Like a Kiss song but only half the fun. He has a self-published Splatter-punk horror novel entitled ‘The Twister’.