Stolen (Short story)

They killed for fun. Every murder looked like the excited frenzy of a child, but they were never caught. No prints, no marks, no fibers, no clues. It was as if ghosts silently commited these crimes and then returned to the spectral plane without so much as a slimey ectoplasmic trail.
The murders were brutal. Victims had their heads completely crushed and their corpse thrown around like a wet cloth. Post-mortem results showed that every bone in a victims body contained at least one fracture.
The murders were one thing, but the disappearance of their children frightened everybody. The result was a society in lock down. But however much they hid, they all knew it would not make a difference if they were to be next.

Kane attached the scorpion whip to his belt. When he stepped outside he could feel electricity in the air like a storm was developing. He patrolled the estate with caution. The community had imposed a curfew on themselves and he felt it his responsibility to ensure it was adhered to. Everybody felt safer this way.
The clatter of a disgarded tin can broke the silence. Kane immediately ducked behind a large bin. He followed the sound to a short alley between two high rise blocks. He heard a sound. He stopped breathing and just listened. It was quiet laughter. He caught the smell of cannabis.
He rounded the corner to find three teenagers smoking. One girl and two boys. They froze when they saw him but Kane laughed, 'you all better get home. Curfew has begun.'
The girl tutted loudly, 'you the feds now?'
Kane's smile faded. 'Are you able to protect yourself if this thing comes for you?'
The girl smirked and took out a knife from her jacket pocket. Kane immediately took it from her with lightning speed. 'What makes you think it's OK to carry a knife? Most people who carry end up getting stabbed with their own knife. Stupid.'
'I'm sick of this. We're being punished and we haven't done anything wrong.'
'This is to keep you safe.'
Just then a choking, gurgle sound echoed around them. The teenagers froze and moved closer together instinctively. Kane turned to see a large deformed humoid enter the alley. It was naked with bruised coloured, smooth skin that reflected like melted plastic. It had no eyes, but its huge mouth opened wide like it was on a hinge to reveal hundreds of sharp teeth. It staggered forward then dropped to its hands and feet and screeched like a cat.
'Run!' Kane ordered the teenagers. 'Go home now!' The teenagers ran.
Kane unclipped the scorpion whip from his belt and creature bounded towards the running teenagers. Kane stepped between it and them. The creature leapt into the air to jump over him, opening its mouth wide. Its tongue flapped inside its huge mouth.
Kane stepped back and flicked the whip. The scorpion tails embedded into the creatures tongue as it hurtled through the air. Kane pulled the whip back hard and it teared out the creatures tongue.
The creature wailed and crashed into the ground next to Kane. He whirled the whip and took aim at the creatures large belly. Then he heard muffled cries.
'What the fuck?'
The cries continued and Kane became momentarily confused. The sound was coming from inside the creature.
Kane adjusted his aim and wrapped the whip around the creatures neck. The scorpion tails hooked in to it's jugular. He pulled on the whip as hard as he could until he heard a sickening crack. The creature flopped on the pavement and the razor sharp whip sliced through its neck. A bubble of blood burst and pumped over the concrete. Its head rolled and its body twitched. But he could still hear the muffled screams.
He took out his phone and called Nurse Toni.

Toni arrived by ambulance. She waved to the driver and he drove away. She sighed as she surveyed the scene. Kane was covered in blood. He kneeled next to the body of the creature. Its stomach had a large gash in it and its intestines sprawled on the ground. Kane appeared distressed. 'I'm glad you're here Toni. I can't find them!'
Toni looked around, 'can't find who?'
Kane whispered, 'listen.'
Toni listened and heard the muffled screams. She thought perhaps they were being carried on the wind but as she crouched closer to the creature she knew they came from inside it. She gasped, 'Kane, it's the children! I've seen this before. They're trapped on another plane of existence. This creature is a doorway to that plane.'
'What? Does that mean we can't get them out?'
'I think we can, but you will have to go inside.'
Toni waved her hands across the body of the creature and took a bag of salt attached to string around her waist. 'We must be quick. These doorways close when the host dies.'
'OK. What do I do?'

Kane pushed his hand into the gaping wound in the creatures abdomen. The internal organs were warm. They squelched and squirted. Small globules of blood spat out into his face.
'You have to go all the way in Kane.' Toni smiled.
Kane pushed his other hand in too and went elbow deep. The creature reaked like a festering dead body. He took a deep breath and slid inside like going down a water slide.
It was dark and became cold. He felt ground and stood up. Kane's eyes instinctively widened to capture any light that might exist and his skin formed goose bumps. He heard Toni like a whisper in his ear, 'Keep moving. Quicken the pace a little. The children are here somewhere.'
Kane held his arms out but felt nothing around him. The ground beneath his feet felt spongey like a bed of leaves had laid for some time.
Then he froze. The faint sound of crying echoed in the dark. He couldn't make out what direction it came from.
Toni whispered, 'it's them! Head towards that sound.'
Kane answered in frustration, 'I don't know where it's coming from.'
'OK, then head towards the darkest point you can see.'
Kane strained to see. 'There! I see a point where the darkness seems to... merge.'
The darkest of the dark suddenly appeared to be a mix of deep greens and Kane could hear the crying children more clearly. Within the dark shades of green haze Kane could make out a dark huddle. 'Holy shit, there they are!'
'Reach out to them.' Toni said.
The atmosphere became like wading through glue but Kane made good progress. He reached out to them and when the children saw him they reached out to him. Their hands touched and they were able to stand. Despite no light source, the children were illuminated like twighlight. Kane whispered to them,' follow me. I'm getting you out of here.' Behind the dirt on their faces, he could see they were afraid.
Although Kane wasn't entirely sure how he was going to get them out, he took comfort in the fact Toni could communicate with him. As they moved back into the black he heard a distant groan. Then a screech.
Toni whispered, 'I think you'd better hurry it up.'
Kane then felt static all around him. It crackled and nipped at him.
'Stay strong, you're almost there!'
The screeching got louder and louder. Whatever creature was headed towards them, it was big. Much bigger than the one he'd just fought. Then the creature growled, 'RAAA! YOU'RE MINE!'
Toni whispered, 'I see you Kane! And the children! Keep moving, don't look back!' She was more insistent now.
The creature roared in Kanes ears. He felt its hot breath on his face and tensed as he expected an attack any second. But then he slid out into blinding daylight. Toni pulled on him and he pulled on the children. 'You did it! You saved them!' Twelve of them were safe and Kane could see them clearly now. All of them were dirty and bruised and all were under ten years old. They looked helpless and utterly terrified. Kane could see why when a huge hand with translucent skin and bulging veins reached out the stomach of the dead creature.
"I just need to close the portal!' Toni stood up, stepped inside the salt circle she had spilled earlier and raised her hands before commanding,' Away! Et tu iubes? Precipio claudere?' (Away! I command you to close!)
The creature poked its head out and bit at the air like a rabbid dog. Kane whipped at the creature and tore off a chunk of flesh. Toni concentrated and continued to chant. Then the portal closed and the creatures head and arm were chopped off and fell to the ground with a slap.
Toni ran to the children, 'it's OK, nothing can hurt you now.'
Kane looked worried. He was pleased they had saved the children but he knew there were more creatures out there. He didn't know what they needed the children for, but he knew they would continue to take them.

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Steven Sweeney BSc(Hons), MSc

'The Brink' comic creator, author, Web developer and musician with 5 albums.