The Weeping Thingbylatinplayer©
The following is a tale of horror with erotic elements. It is part of my short story collection Demonic Murmurs, and although a typical horror anthology might be a tad bland or inhibited, I daresay that my endeavor is decidedly more intense. All characters depicted are over the age of 18.
Since he wasn't scheduled for work that day, Donald was carelessly clicking through the personal ads on a couple of social sites. The ads he kept coming across weren't filling him up with any sort of happy hope for finding a date anytime soon. He skimmed over the usual seeking financially secure, prefer a man in the military, must be tall, very good looking, hung like a horse, and in great shape posts, but he did have himself a laugh when he came across some crazy woman's ad asking for a sugar daddy to help her out with a few monthly expenses, in exchange for unspecified favors.
"Yeah, right." Donald mumbled, as he abandoned his web browser and sat back in his old executive chair on rollers.
The seat cushion was so flat and worn out he'd taken to putting a folded up and skinny blanket on it, and he took a quick moment to adjust said blanket's unruly folds, before he resumed his seat and his eyes scanned across his small bedroom.
It was nothing to brag about. He had a twin size bed with covers in an appealing shade of tan, a small desk that was meant for a kid and that bumped his knees whenever he rolled too close to it, a small closet and a short dresser filled with his essentials, and several cases stacked up in a corner filled with nonessentials that he'd never gotten around to unpacking, mainly because he didn't have the room to put their contents anywhere.
The bedroom wasn't an eyesore, but it did have a few details detrimental to the upbeat lifestyle of a dating connoisseur; the walls were largely blank, and the carpeting tired, and in some spots it exhibited some ancient stain or other discoloring. Still, he might be able to entice some woman inside, and onto his bed. Maybe.
Well, if you didn't consider the mannerisms of the old lady he rented the room from, anyway. Margaret owned the two bedroom house, and along with charging him a rent of five hundred dollars a month, she'd given him a sheet with all of her prohibitions and stipulations. No drinking, no drugs, no loud music, no partying, and absolutely no members of the opposite sex were allowed.
Basically, Donald sighed, the overzealous and overly-strict old woman was taking a lot of the fun out of his life, but since he'd been hard-pressed to find a similar rent and accommodations in that part of town, he'd gone ahead and signed the rental agreement and paid off the first month's rent, and the security deposit. The alcohol and drugs he could do without, since he was definitely mellowing in his thirties, and as for the music, he'd purchased himself a good pair of headphones to take care of that.
The lack of sex, however, was growing into a very large annoyance. It was as if, since old Margaret wasn't getting laid, neither was anyone else under her roof. Donald recalled a scene from a month prior, the last time he'd been out on a date.
That had been with the blond, Sallie, all of five-foot-two, and who kissed in a way that he'd never been able to get enough of. It was too bad that he and Sallie hadn't been talking as much online anymore, and Donald was slowly coming to the conclusion that she'd moved on and left him adrift like an old piece of flotsam. His erratic work schedule that always cut across the heart of the day, and most weekends, didn't help matters here, either.
He began feeling a bit depressed, and had he owned a car, perhaps Donald would have jumped into it and driven somewhere far away from where he lived. Perhaps he could get lost out there, and never have to come back to his mundane and boring life. But no, Donald did not have a car, and his prospects for entertaining himself elsewhere rested on the city's public transportation system, or on the more or less reliable foot-mobile.
Feeling something approaching resignation, Donald went back to his computer screen, glancing and wishfully scanning over the numerous profiles of happy, smiling women he'd never have the opportunity to meet in person.
Later that afternoon, Donald stepped out. He'd taken a few naps, and watched a few comedy shows, and that had lightened up his mood by not much, and now he was on his way to the kitchen to warm up a can of soup.
He took a quick glance into the living room, noticing that the news was playing on the tube, but that Margaret was nowhere in sight. The old woman did that sometimes, leave the TV on while she was over at a neighbor's house and chatting the time away. She had explained that habit to him on a couple of occasions, that by leaving the television on, it would deter potential burglars from breaking into the house, because no burglar would ever dare break into a house while someone was in it.
But let Donald leave his ceiling fan on overnight when the heat was unbearable, and lo and behold, there would be hell to pay to Margaret in the morning.
The woman was paranoid, and possibly, borderline insane, Donald thought, as he emptied the can's contents into a small pot, and added a short spurt of water. When he'd first moved in, she'd taken to following him around the house, and she'd even go into the bathroom right after he'd used it, stink and all, in case he'd inadvertently left any drug paraphernalia lying around like a moron.
Thank goodness she'd eased up a bit, about that.
As Donald patiently waited for his soup to warm up, and considered what life would be like if he lived elsewhere, or if he were better looking, or a rich man, when his thoughts became distracted by an unexpected sound.
It was the sound of a person quietly crying nearby, and concerned, Donald left the kitchen and went into the living room to lower the volume on the TV set. He listened intently for the lamentation, but at first he could not localize it, and afterward, it had halted as unexpectedly as it had commenced.
As he ate his soup in the tiny afterthought of a dining room, Donald thought he heard the sound of crying a second time, but he passed it off as having come from the TV set. When Margaret came back into the living room, the first thing she did was to scold him for having fiddled with the volume control on the television, resulting in Donald quickly finishing off his light meal and heading back to his bedroom for peace and quiet.
He thought he heard that same strange crying, as he lay in bed and waited for sleep to come to him. It would be unusual for him to get out of bed to investigate, according to Margaret's observations and expectations of him, so Donald simply stayed in place and began to wonder who could possibly be making such pitiful sounds.
When sleep finally found him, it brought strange nightmares to Donald's mind. He dreamt that he was running through the woods, panting and out of breath, and behind him he could hear angry voices. He was being chased, he quickly realized, by a mob wielding torches, axes and pitchforks, who were shouting curses at him. They wore an unusual fashion of clothing, made of rough cloth, leather or fur; doublets, vests with white shirts underneath, breeches, knitted caps, straw hats, felt hats and the like.
They meant to kill him, Donald understood in a panic, but his movements were sluggish and cumbersome, as if he wasn't running but sloshing along on the ground like a great lump. He felt twigs and bumps below him as he moved, felt leaves sticking wetly to his flesh, felt coarse and rough patches of bark as his glob-like form flowed around trees and bent aside saplings. The men chasing him were much faster.
They surrounded him, stabbing at him with their pitchforks, hacking at him with their axes, and Donald cried out from the enormity of the pain ripping through his flesh. They meant to rip him to pieces, he saw, and back in the distance, one man ordered a few of the others to start gathering tinder. They meant to hack him apart, he realized, and to burn the chunks right after.
There was nothing he could do about it.
Abruptly, Donald sat up in his bed. His breaths were struggling to come out of him, as if he had indeed been running away from a mob, and in the dark, he began to wonder if he'd screamed out, and if the landlord was even now trying to figure out what he was up to, from her bedroom behind their common wall.
Donald swung his legs over the side of the bed, as if he had to flee from his very mattress, as if those men would still be tearing him apart if he dared to close his eyes again.
That's when he heard the crying once more, like a soft song of despair and anguish, filtering into his ears. As he listened to it, it calmed him, soothed him, enough that his breathing returned to normal, and his heartbeat was no longer pounding away within his chest.
"What's happening to me?" Donald asked the night, as the song continued to relax him, like the hands of a gentle masseuse.
The alarm clock told him he should be in a deep sleep, and the song lulled him in this direction. He yawned, strangely knowing that the nightmare would not return, and as he lay back down on his mattress, he thought the whimpering sounded like that of a small child, and maybe a boy. He found himself wishing he could do something for that child, like buy him a toy or an ice cream, so he would be happy again. So he wouldn't have to cry any more.
Such thoughts were crossing Donald's mind, until he finally shut his eyes and went back to a pleasant slumber.
The next day, he'd only been cursed with four hours of work, and he disembarked the transit bus at only a few minutes before one in the afternoon. Normally, he'd get off a few stops earlier than his, or later, only to walk the remaining distance back home in the hopes of nodding at or greeting a passerby, and perhaps engaging him or her in a brief conversation, for such was Donald's deep state of loneliness. Instead, on this day he got off at the right place, and traversed the single block purposefully and diligently, until he stood before the house's front door.
As he'd expected, Margaret was not home. During the weekdays, she would often leave and attend to her errands or various doctors' appointments, and he assumed that this was what she was doing today. He stepped into his bedroom, changing into more casual attire, before he sat on the edge of the bed, and listened for the sound of the crying.
Today, Donald resolved, he was going to get to the bottom of things.
He waited, sometimes patiently, sometimes impatiently, until the inactivity got the better of him. The day was warm, and the bed covers felt comfortable enough to his touch that he ended up curling over them and taking a nap.
Half an hour later, his eyes popped open. He hadn't been having any nightmare, and couldn't remember what he'd been dreaming at all. What was it then, that had awakened him? His ears took in all they could, until he heard it.
Slowly, quietly, Donald sat up, fearing that any sudden movement might drive the sobbing away. He tried to trace the source of the sound, and in tiny increments, his head and body shifted around the entire bedroom. The crying was everywhere, it seemed, but it was slightly more noticeable in one direction.
The bedroom window.
Donald stood up and went to slide the window open. There was a dusty screen in the way, and he turned an ear toward it, moving as close to the filth as he dared. He heard the sobbing, eternal and pleading, and it was coming from the outside of the house.
Donald found himself rushing through the house and out the back door, thinking twice about it and going back for his keys. No telling what kind of eruption Margaret would have if she came home to a wide-open back door, he thought, as he locked up.
After, he went to his window, and once he'd forced himself to focus, he again honed in on the mysterious, soft crying. He started walking in the direction he calculated it was coming from.
A gathering of Red Maples, White Ash and White Oak could be seen directly behind Margaret's house, and the further away from the house Donald went, the denser the woods became. He'd frequented the area before, mainly out of boredom and hoping to catch some possum or raccoon in action, or anything at all for that matter, but this time, he felt like an amateur detective, sleuthing out there to find the secret of the weeping noise.
His feet trampled over the uneven blanket of crusty leaves and twigs, the noise forcing him to pause and gain his bearings often, but through it all, the crying continued.
It knows, he thought. It knows I'm out here, trying to find it. It's leading me right to where it is.
The realization was unsettling, as it implied that whatever he was looking for was an intelligent thing, and capable of reaching into his mind and drawing him out to find it.
What if, what if it's evil? What if it wants to hurt me?
He was becoming distracted, he realized, as he turned back toward the house. He could no longer see it.
I should go back, he considered.
That's when the weeping called out to him, reassuring him that it wasn't too much further ahead, and that it meant him no harm. It was lonely, it said, in its weeping little voice, as lonely as Donald was. It pleaded with the man to keep forging ahead, to not turn his back and abandon the thing forever.
And Donald, forgetting his disquiet, pressed on. He had to get to the bottom of this, he decided. No matter what, he had to find out what was out there.
Donald heard the caws from a trio of crows, right before he came to a strange clearing on the ground, a place where the dirt had become a sinister shade of black. It wasn't a large space, just a few feet across and shaped like a crooked oval, and the man wondered why his attention had been drawn to that particular spot.
Then, he understood why. This was where the weeping thing had been butchered, where its little pieces had been covered over with kindling and set on fire. The black spot marked where the thing had died, and nothing had grown there ever since.
There was a rustle to one side, causing Donald's attention to shift. Two of the crows had beaten their wings in haste and hopped backward, as if something had startled them, or threatened them.
As Donald watched, one crow stalked forward, and began pecking on whatever it had been consuming right before he'd arrived.
Inside of Donald's head, he heard the sobbing turn into cries of pain, and he knew that whatever it was that had called him out there, the crows were poking at and eating.
Donald gulped, as each time the crow snatched its head down and snapped its beak, another jolt sounded in his mind. He picked up a couple of stones, and launched them at the black birds along with his shouts, but the crows were unnaturally persistent. They hurled their own insults back at him, until he found a sturdy branch and scattered them with a few wide swings.
The crows flew up into the trees, where eerily, they took up posts and closely watched him.
"Fucking crows!" He shouted up at the broken canopy, before he began the short trek to where they'd been feasting.
It was half hidden under dirt and leaves, and from its coloration, Donald at first thought he was looking at a human hand. It was the right size, he thought, as he used the end of his branch to scatter the debris and get a better look at the thing.
He shuddered. It wasn't a hand, it was a pale pink glob of meat, with little open wounds where the crows had been tearing away at it, and as far as he could see, it had no hair or wrinkles or fingernails or any other identifiable features on it.
He should leave, immediately, Donald thought. Leave this unholy thing behind and forget all about it. Forget about the weeping, and forget about its...
The song started up again, like the song of sirens just before they lead sailors to maneuver their ships towards jagged rocks, to their doom.
In unison, the crows suddenly descended upon him, using their voices to startle him and their claws to tear at his head and arms.
Donald was disconcerted and in shock for the first few seconds, trying to keep the birds from ripping at his face, until he remembered the stick he still had in his grip. He swung hard, smashing it into a crow and sending the creature pummeling in a wild flutter into the leaves. A second blow crashed another crow into a tree trunk, and this one fell like a dead thing to the ground.
The last crow cried out for vengeance, but with its strength in numbers so greatly diminished, it had no choice but to retreat back to a safer distance. Or so Donald thought.
The moment Donald slightly lowered his gnarled weapon, the crow sped past him to continue its assault on the weeping thing. It was trying to scratch the glob apart with its claws, cawing out loud as it repeatedly struck, and the sheer ferocity of the attack left Donald dumb for a moment.
Gripping the tree limb like a golf club, Donald stepped forward, swung and smashed the last crow into oblivion.
He was panting again, as he raised his eyes toward the sky and took in the high spots where other crows might be hiding. Finding none, hearing none, and not wanting to risk any of the first three threatening him again, Donald took the next few minutes to inspect the three fallen birds and batter them with his stick until he was certain they were dead.
After, he returned to the weeping thing, feeling that same black knot in his stomach, as his eyes took in its pulpy, bloody form on the ground.
"What..." He struggled to catch his breath. "What the fuck are you?"
The thing replied, in its own bizarre way, by sobbing and gasping like a child who'd just been beaten to tears.
Donald watched the thing, heard it crying in his head, and wondered what to do next. He couldn't leave it out there, for some other crows or some other animal might come by and finish it off, and then he'd never know what it truly was.
"I've got to take you back home with me, don't I?" He leaned closer to get a better look at it, and made a squeamish face as he took in all the blood. "I don't see how you're going to make it, but here goes."
He poked his stick at it, wondering how he'd get the thing to balance on it, when the thing took the initiative all on its own. It swept around the end of the stick like a pair of very fat fingers and held on tight. Donald nearly dropped the stick when he saw this, and he kept a wary eye on the thing, in case it scurried down the piece of wood and tried to latch onto his hand, like what happened in some old horror movie he'd once seen.
"I don't trust you, whatever you are." He told the thing, as he stood back up and felt the thing's slight weight on the end of the tree limb.
Donald took one last look at the dead crows, before he started on the journey home.
He paused when he came within view of the back door, and propped the stick, with the thing still stuck to it, next to a tree.
"It won't do to have Margaret see me bringing you inside." Donald explained. "Let me go in first and see if she's come back yet."
He walked toward the house, swinging his arms jauntily as if he was only returning from a short walk, and he unlocked the door as carelessly as he usually did. A quick tour of the premises informed him that the house was still empty, and he hurried into the kitchen and grabbed up a glass salad bowl that Margaret hardly ever used.
Jogging back out, he came to the tree, only to find that the stick had fallen over, and the weeping thing was in the dirt again.
"Shit." Donald said, as he reached out and gently picked the thing up.
It felt warm, and creepily, like soft, hairless human flesh.
The thing felt repulsive, he thought, as he quickly plopped it into the bowl and hurried back into the house.