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Old 03-19-2009, 08:27 PM   #1
Kojak
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The Horror on Highway 81

It is with neither apprehension nor doubt of my own word, that I conclude that the foulest and most wretched of all constructs is the human psyche. It's festering occupancy of our reality is one that is both undesired and absurd. A discovery that I only recently stumbled upon, after having embarked on a foolish expedition. Its purpose was in it's self folly, its fruition leading to the opposite of what I had so wrongly desired.

As I recount the details of the horrific events that transpired that night, you may consider me to be quite mad. I would not bear it as an insult. The concept of sanity has now become a matter of irrelevance to me. Whether what I witnessed that night was expelled from a horrendous corner of my own shattered mind or from a twisted conduit of reality, has no real meaning to me. Where ever the horror came from it now plagues all facets of my life. It hunts me at every turn. Toying with me in the way that a cat torments a mouse. Perhaps that's what I am to it. Nothing more than a terrified mouse. No more able to defend its self than comprehend what happens when the cat tires of its game.

Queer that I should liken it to a cat.

I sit now at this desk, recording what I do not want to remember, for reasons that I am unsure of . Perhaps somewhere inside me I want people to know what I went through. Perhaps not. Maybe this will be my great work that I hoped to write.

The ordeal began with a simple idea that would set events into motion, changing my very understanding of nature its self. At one point or another everyone that feels their self importance is more than the people surrounding them, decides to write a book. Claims that people write for fun, understanding, fame or even money are ignorant of the real drive that makes a man put ink to paper. The simple knowledge that someone will read your own words whilst thinking in the back of their heads; this person is better than me, is the real motive.

Myself being a person who believed this more than others, I knew that to simply compromise was out of the question. If I were to write, I would need to put forward an amount of concentration and sacrifice, unequaled by those whom write lifeless romance stories to Readers Digest. To write about something that I have not experienced myself would be nothing more than a farce. With this thought in my mind I set out in early March upon a journey, its purpose was to entirely rob me of energy or will that unsuspectingly thought its self safe. To feel how my characters felt was what I desired. To walk for nine straight hours with a weighted backpack so that I may more accurately write what my characters were going through. I did not know that this walk would give me much more than that.

I was not to be alone during this personal trial, although upon reflection it may have been more wise. A fellow writer agreed that it was an eccentric though brilliant idea. We began preparing so that we might set off in the late afternoon, the majority of our walk was to be hidden under the cover of darkness, sheltering us from the thick humidity and heat that so relentlessly haunts us this time of the year.

We left at five thirty. It was strange that the first hour proved to be so difficult. The both of us had gone walking before. Perhaps it was the backpacks, trying to drag us down to the pavement. Perhaps it was the heat. Still, do not get the false impression that it was not enjoyable for it certainly was. Fresh air between us and our destination, we marched onwards.

In the next couple of hours we hit our stride. Tired we were, however we had a hit a pace that was both comfortable and fast enough for the both of us. While our legs begged us for rest we pressed on. The exhaustion we felt was certainly present, but as we pushed on further it did not seem to worsen at all.

As we walked, we began to escape society.

This must have been the most pleasant part of the trip, that is to say it would have been, had certain events been averted. The pathway that we were using, while still running parallel to the road, moved away from it slightly. A thin though dense wall of trees blocked out much of the sound of the passing cars. Twisted boughs wrapped up into each other, a light brown carpet of pine needles lined the ground giving it an almost enchanted look. To our other side was the river. Flowing fast for this time of year, its surface bubbling as the current passed over submerged rocks. It is here that the both of us were to find our walking sticks.

The joy of finding a walking stick is that no two are alike. While my friend happened upon a long slender stick that he pressed down with a soft clop every second or third step, I eventually found a much shorter and thicker one that I fancied, covered in papery bark that crumbled in my hands. One end of the stick was in the shape of a Y, allowing me to rest my hand in the middle, making use of it as a crutch when I became too exhausted. For now I kept that end down, its twin split hitting the ground with every step I took.

I was proud of having found that stick. The stick had a slight curve in it that caused it to swing in front of me whenever I picked it up off the ground. It was perfect for me. The perfect traveling companion one might say, not to rob any light from the one that actually walked beside me, he was helpful in a much different way.

We travelled in that fashion for almost an hour. A dull clunk sound of my walking stick with every step I took, was emphasised by my companion's clunk on every third step. While I do not doubt that we may have appeared foolish traveling in that manner, to us we felt like gods surveying our kingdom.

It is here that my story begins to take a turn for what you may consider strange. As much as I have dreaded this part of my tale, I realise that it is necessary for you to fully comprehend what I am trying to tell you. It is with startling accuracy that I remember every single detail of what happened. There are some memories that can not be repressed, no matter how hard you try.

The stage for this horrible ordeal was a small clump of houses that lay not a stones throw away from the road. There were perhaps as little as twelve houses here, some fronting stretches of paddocks. From one of the houses we heard gospel music playing. There were six different cars parked outside. The mouth watering smell of home cooked pot roast was so thick upon the air, we could almost taste it. The place was like our own personal bible belt. Hidden away from the main road by a velvet curtain of bark and leaves.

One of the houses had a strange pile of fallen orange coloured logs, just outside their front gate, which had been left wide open. Upon this gate was a sign with simple lettering that was obviously hand painted. It read

SHEPSHUT: KEEP GATE CLOSED!

To this day I am unsure as to what SHEPSHUT means. My ignorance since then remains, though not at all related to my lack of trying. Admittedly my curiosity in this word only developed when I arrived home from my expedition. I hoped that it would give me answers. So far it has given me none. At the time what I paid attention to was the faded black words indicating the gate should be shut.

As we walked past it my traveling companion turned around, perhaps to look upon the strange word one more time. He swore very quietly and motioned for me to look. As I turned round I bore witness to something that I thought was harmless.

Past the open a gate a large dog, perhaps as tall as my waist, was bounding through the golden fallen leaves with reckless abandon, a cloud of orange dust in its wake. As to his breed I am unsure. Perhaps a cross of a golden retriever. Its hair was very short and coloured a snow white. So perfect was his colouring that there was not a single blemish upon the dog's coat.

Its mouth was wide open as it ran towards us. It almost seemed to be smiling as if it were happy to see us. A collar fasted upon its neck let me know that it wasn't a stray, although the dog's meticulously clean appearance had already tipped me off. While I have always considered myself to be a dog person, I knew that my friend certainly wasn't. Not wanting to attract too much attention from the dog I resisted the urge to call it over.

The dog slowed down as it met with us, I had half expected it to run straight up to us, licking our dangling hands in hopes that we may have had some spare food. It did not do this, and seemed quite content to pad along behind us. I could sense my friend growing tense about the situation, I turned to the dog so that I might pat it, demonstrating that the dog proved no real threat. I was a little shocked to see no trace of the dog as I turned around. It took me a moment to realise he had hidden himself behind a small shrub to our left. Surely it wasn't stalking us. I stared into those deep cavernous eyes of obsidian.

The dog started barking.

The first slimy cold tentacles of worry took root from somewhere in my lower back, wrapping themselves in knotted contortions around my spine. Something was not right.

In a quite whisper I instructed my friend not to react to it. Just walk straight, no sudden movements and do not acknowledge the dog in anyway. He said nothing in response, instead he quietly nodded his head and very slowly dropped his walking stick, perhaps thinking the dog perceived it as a weapon. I very reluctantly did the same.

It continued its obsessive barking. At first following from behind. I began to worry when it trotted a few meters in front, stood its ground baring a set of white pointed fangs. We kept on walking. I prayed that it would not attack us and was thankful when it let us pass. It did not last for long. Again the dog ran ahead, pivoted, spread its legs and snarled relentlessly. Again we passed it. This went on for several more minutes, each time we approached the dog, wondering if this would be the time that it decided to attack.

A sudden burst of noise from somewhere to our left startled us. A short scream almost escaped from my mouth. As I looked over, a short balding man was standing behind the safety of his picturesque white picket fence. He held a pot in one hand and a wooden spoon in the other, bashing the two cooking implements together, whilst shouting insults. For a panicked second I thought it was aimed at us, however the dog suddenly took off towards the old man's commotion and it dawned on me that he was distracting the dog.

The relief that I felt was somewhat lessened as I began to give the situation more thought. If this man recognised the dog and knew that he had to distract it from us, then that was a bad indication of the dogs temperament. Quickening our pace we moved away from the dog in complete silence, the barrage of the old man's sound faded away. I summoned the courage to glance back to where it had been. My stomach dropped at what I saw. In the distance the white dog, gradually getting closer to us. It must have grown bored of the old man's taunting. Surely we were out of it's territory by now.

I toyed with the idea of dashing towards the barbed wire fence that lay a short distance in front of me. I was unsure if I could reach it before the dog would bear down upon us. Any attempt to climb the fence in such haste would have resulted in injury, the knotted barbs of the wire glinting menacingly in the sun despite the dark rust that encrusted it, which bore a striking resemblance to dry blood.

Instead we decided to cross the highway, hoping the dog would not follow us across the four lanes of traffic. Whilst still busy, the bright headlights of the cars were easy to see in the now darkened night. Crossing to the other side of the road we watched with dread as the white dog crossed with us, not at all startled by the occasional car that hurtled down the stretch of road. It continued to run in front of us and wait. Snarling and barking.

I can not tell you how many times I pictured those teeth sinking into the softness of my belly, ripping at my skin, pushing me to the floor where it would move to my face. A warm and slimy red tongue wiping its self along my open eye, tasting me before its jaws would press down on me with alarming force, shattering my very skull.

Again it let us pass it by.

Again it ran in front of us.

This time however the dog disappeared around the subtle bend of the curved road. We paused for a moment, unsure if we should continue. It was pointless to turn back. We would be walking further into its territory. It wouldn't wait for us forever, the creature was hardly stupid. As we made our way around the bend, the dog came once more into our view. I then bore witness to the most horrific thing I'll ever witness in my life.
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Old 03-19-2009, 08:28 PM   #2
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The stretch of road had not a single street light upon it, however the pale moon was striking through the darkness, casting long slender shadows across the landscape. I heard not a single car, nor saw a single headlight. We were all of a sudden very much alone. I am unsure if this was fate, coincidence or as I now suspect to be the result of a much more malevolent force. In the middle of the deserted stretch of road, illuminated by the pale moonlight was the white dog, sitting perfectly still, a loathsome noise spewing out from its mouth.

Those of you who have been around dogs long enough may have had the displeasure of hearing them make a sound that is similar to a cats yowl. It seems to be a noise that is seldom made, a twisted combination of a deep growl and a person humming in a gruff broken voice. Perhaps the most unsettling part about this sound is that a dog seemingly does not have to open its mouth to make it, instead simply emanating from somewhere in it's throat. As the white dog made it in front of us now, it seemed as it were channeling the very depths of hell.

My heart felt like it stopped for a couple of seconds. Both of us froze, terrified and unsure of what to do next. The dog's horrific noise suddenly ceased as it raised its self into a standing position, exposing its naked belly to us, its front paws tucked up, almost in the same way a dinosaurs would. I felt adrenaline surge through me as my body began to react to the horror that my mind saw.

The dog took one shaky step towards us, I then noticed the horrible bulge begin to appear in the left eye of the dog. It appeared as if a small slender skewer was being slowly speared through the dogs skull, pushing its eye slowly outward. There was a soft popping sound. The dog's eye did not burst however, instead sliding almost gracefully down the side of it's snout before somehow getting caught up in the dogs fur. In the place of where the dog's eye had once been, I wished that I only saw a darkened black socket, now empty. This was not what was there.

A thick, dark green tentacle like tendon slowly pushed its self out of the dogs eye. Ever so slowly writhing as it pushed out further from the dog's face. Similarly the popping sound was heard again, the dog's other eye falling to the ground, not making a sound as it dropped upon the black asphalt of the road. Another pale green tentacle began to push its way out, its texture appeared to be similar to dried bark, however it did not appear to flake at all instead remaining perfectly intact. They emerged from the dog's eye sockets, like a maggot slowly eating its way out of a fallen bird. They protruded a little more than a fingers length out of the dog's eyes, where they stopped growing and began to writhe much more violently, thrashing about in the dog's skull.

The dog took another step forward in it's horrible upright stance, its spine bending forward with a sharp snapping noise, then with an unpleasant grating sound, straightened its back once more. Its mouth wide open in a horrible smile, wheezing and coughing the dog walked awkwardly in its upright position, its spine bending in twisted unnatural ways, at one point bending in an L shape to its left before straightening up again. At no point during this heinous walk did the dog appear to loose its balance.

The thing left a trail of white hairs as its coat began to shed, revealing a molted brown skin marked with red lines across its body, splitting into red trails that resembled road marks upon a map. It looked as if they were seams of the dogs skin, about to burst. I looked on with revulsion as that very thing partly happened.

The dogs chest very violently burst, sending five fresh green tentacles to erupt from the now mostly exposed rib-cage of the dog, not to be outdone by the nauseating sight of three almost fully formed embryo's dropping from the dogs chest. They landed with what under other circumstances would be a comical splat sound. With sheer horror I saw their underdeveloped limbs slowly moving backwards and forwards to no avail.

The dog continued to move towards us in a sicking parody of a human walking.

We both fled from the abomination at the same time without a word. I felt numb, my once aching joints no longer in pain, or perhaps I just did not notice it. Only once did I look back over my shoulders. I saw the horrid thing, way off in the distance barely visible. Its green tentacles thrashing about violently. It was perhaps a kilometer away, but even so I could see it was moving slowly but unmistakably towards us.

We ran for what could have been hours. No cars passed us. We saw no one. I am still unsure as to whether I wanted to see other people or not. After we finally stopped we decided we were to catch a taxi home. The walk was almost certainly over, however with dismay I realized that there was no service in the area that we were in. I dropped my mobile back into the pocket of my jeans. We would continue on foot.

We did not run nor jog, though you would hardly be able to say we were at a simple walking pace. I knew that somewhere behind us that twisted creature that was once (or possibly never was) a dog was somewhere behind on the road, steadily staggering towards us.

The both of us walked in complete silence, not wanting to discuss what we had witnessed. Perhaps if we had been talking I would have noticed it. Perhaps not. Even now I am unsure if this next part actually happened or if it was something hatched from a fevered madness, as I said that is no longer relevant to me for reasons you will soon understand. Something had caught my attention. As I turned towards my friend I did not see him, but something else. It was certainly wearing his clothes, and even bore some of the same facial traits as him, however what I saw before me approximated something that was half man, half dog.

If you hold an image of a werewolf in your mind please rid yourself of it, for it is not what I saw. The thing before me, appeared to be more human than dog, bearing more of a resemblance to the Egyptian god Anubis. My world blacked out for a second, as I was suddenly struck across the chest by a powerful arm. Thrown to the ground, I tried to roll away from whatever it was that had hit me. The thing that had once been my friend advanced on me, its jaws opened wide, large strands of saliva dripping from those vicious fangs.

I ran, it followed me in pursuit. It was no use. It was much quicker than I.

Instead I picked a fallen branch that lay beside the road. It was sturdy and solid. No sooner had I picked it up, I began to swing the heavy branch in a wide horizontal ark, pivoting upon the balls of my feet as I turned around. The wood struck the dog like man in the face, driving him instantly to the ground. Adrenaline, fear or perhaps a mixture of both, fueled me. I was on the creature in a second, bringing down the sturdy branch upon it's head with all my strength. Pointed teeth exploded out of it's twisted snout and I raised my hands, once again bringing my club down upon the beast, this time cracking its head open. Jet black blood slowly trickled from the top of it's bald head. I raised my hands bringing my fury down upon the creature one last time. An explosion of dark liquid spewed from the top of its cranium, sending out a splatter that reached across both lanes of the empty road.

In horror I looked down upon what remained of the corpses face. It was not a half man, half dog. It was my friend. Dead, his face caved in.

My branch dropped from my hand. My defeat and despair only overwhelmed by the sight of a white dog appearing in an upright walk, upon the horizon line. I fled from that place. I did not stop running till I arrived home.

That was two days ago.

I have not slept an hour since then. Whatever I saw that night followed me home. Even as I write this I can hear its rough green tentacled limbs bashing at my back door.

One thing I know to be true is the loathsome creature at my door is not a putrid fantasy of my diseased mind. How can it be, if my traveling companion had also witnessed it? Of that I feel certain. Of the issue about him morphing into the dog like creature that I killed, I will never be sure. I do not understand how both events are related other than the obvious canine theme. Perhaps they were both simply false images conceived from my insane mind. Perhaps I am perfectly sane.

As you read this, whoever it may be that finds it, I ask you this. How can someone deem a person insane? If an unarmed person were to flee from ten armed gang members, you could not call them a coward for that. Courage can not be judged without knowledge of the fear the person faced. How can we have courage without first having fear? Similarly how can someone judge me insane, when they themselves have not been exposed to the horrid impossibilities that I have? Insanity like gravity, is only relative.

The sounds of the creature at my door grow louder now. A small handgun sits at the very desk I am writing at. It will soon be put to use, not upon the creature but upon myself. This is why it matters not to me whether I am insane or not, for whatever of these it is, I will be dead within the next two minutes. For you, the person reading this however, it is perhaps the most important part of this whole twisted mess. If I am insane than I almost guarantee that is the best news you will have during the entire course of your life.

On the other hand the implications that arise in the case that I am sane do not bode well for you at all. You see if I am in fact insane, then all the events that occurred were fictional. If I am sane however, it means that somewhere lurks the horrific abomination that I bore witness to. I do not claim to understand how these forces work. All I am certain of is if after reading this, being the last thing that I will ever write, you begin to hear the staggered soft steps of a padded dog, just outside your door, your life is over.

I hear the sound of glass shattering in my living room.

I'm going to use the gun now, before I have to see the face of that monster again.

Listen for the footsteps.

Listen for a faint wheezing dog.

Farewell.
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Old 03-20-2009, 11:12 AM   #3
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Good read. I really enjoyed it.
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Old 03-20-2009, 07:24 PM   #4
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Cheers dude, thanks for the feedback.
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Old 03-20-2009, 08:46 PM   #5
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I'm not sure whether or not you intend for your story to be deconstructable or anything, but what purpose does the "SHEPSHUT" have in the story? Is it simply the monster's name, or does it symbolize something?
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Old 03-20-2009, 10:08 PM   #6
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I am considering making more works that refference to it, eventually shedding more light upon it, however for this story it does not need to be known. The horror is not the focal point of the story. Sanity is. The horror is just a mechanisim used to fuel that theme.

A few people that have read this story have picked up on a link between this word and egyptian mythology. Lets say that they are on the right path.

Egypts awesome.
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Old 03-21-2009, 06:58 AM   #7
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I am considering making more works that refference to it, eventually shedding more light upon it, however for this story it does not need to be known. The horror is not the focal point of the story. Sanity is. The horror is just a mechanisim used to fuel that theme.

A few people that have read this story have picked up on a link between this word and egyptian mythology. Lets say that they are on the right path.

Egypts awesome.
Ahh, so you're going a combination H. P. Lovecraft/M. R. James route, combining the theme of insanity Lovecraft used with the "creature whose existence is never explained in any real detail" concept that James did so well.

I like it.
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Old 03-30-2009, 12:25 PM   #8
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I enjoyed it a lot. I don't know if you're looking for mild constructive criticism, so forgive me if I'm out of line:

I would ask if you are sure the use of "older" prose is working effectively for your message? The grammar gets a bit unwieldy at times, and that could interfere with the subtler exploration of "sanity". The prose is strongly reminiscent of Gothic/Romantic horror fiction (and Lovecraft) and that may be diluting your message a bit. My reaction was "Excellent horror fiction!" until you explained that wasn't your main intention.

The musings on sanity come across as another facet of the horror, not vice versa. Maybe because the mystery is in the horror element, not whether we can trust the narrator - he says we might not be able to, and that removes a lot of the suspense from the sanity theme.

Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this! Well done!

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Old 03-30-2009, 01:45 PM   #9
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Great short story, Kojak. Would be interested in reading more
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