The All Consuming Void

Smash ‘Em Up Sunday: Cosmic Horror
Max words: 800
Included Words: Dread, Unknowable, Forbidden, Yellow
Sentence Blocks: “We were not meant to understand.” “It was a violation of the order of nature.”

“Easy Sam,” says an astronaut. “No need to take this on yourself. Some things were just not meant to be understood.”

Sam is looking through a window to a sickly yellow orb that they once called home. “I don’t buy it. Surely, time constriction came up in one of our scenarios. I have family down there, Steve.”

“Had,” Steve corrects.

Sam becomes distant.

“Sorry, Sam. You know those in our profession don’t get the luxury of family.”

Sam looks at the white volleyball-sized orb. Its simple glass box is sitting on a pedistool. The most powerful and forbidden force, she thinks as she looks at the orb with disdain. And we’ve put it in a glass box, on a pedistool.

“Who among them could have claimed what we can? We’ve retrieved the first known aftermath of a closed black hole.”

“Who are we going to tell, Steve? They’re all long gone. There’s no one to tell.” Sam gestures to the glass case. “It doesn’t make any sense. If this thing is dense enough to constrict time, it should have gravity! That stupid white orb is a contradiction.”

“This closing of a black hole is unprecedented, so we’re in unknowable territory here. Wait, what white orb?”

Their eyes meet, then move to a rotating red light on the wall.

“Is Doug in the airlock?” Sam asks.

They run to the door and look through the viewing window. “Doug!” Steve yells, banging on the door.
Doug is facing away from them and peeing, rotating his hips as he sprays around the bowl. “Be right out,” he yells.

“What does he think he’s doing?” Sam asks. “Is he really pissing in the airlock?”

Doug reaches up to flush as dread fueled fists bang against the door. “Geez,” Doug says. “When you gotta go, you gotta go.”

They watch as he pulls the manual override. He reaches for his face as his skin swells then cracks, releasing fluid and tissue to float out of his flesh enclosure.

Steve begins pacing, rubbing his palms against his temples.

“What the hell was that?” Sam asks, gesturing to the door.

Steve stops. “He didn’t know he was in the airlock. He couldn’t have known.” He walks over to grab Sam by the elbows. “What did you mean earlier by white orb?”

She pulls out of his grip and gestures to the glass box. “What else?”

Steve looks at the case and shakes his head as he approaches. “For me its a blue tetrahedron. We’re not seeing the same things, Sam.”

The lights begin to flicker and Sam’s balance starts feeling off. She reaches for a reassuring wall. “Something’s happening!” She yells, grabbing her head.

Her surroundings become a featureless black as all of her memories stand before her like rows of dominoes. They all retreat and she reaches towards them, then they are gone, erased like a magnet set against her hard drive.

Steve watches as her stare turns vapid. Her head ratchets, blank gaze aiming at him. The stare is a lifeless thing, a violation of the natural order.

The space between them grows, the floor seeming to stretch as the distance between them changes from five yards, to ten, to fifty.

“It’s not real,” Steve tells himself. “I’m still in the cargo bay.”

He takes an uneasy step, then another as he looks towards Sam’s distant stare.

“She’s only a few steps away. She has to be.”

The lights begin flickering and his eyes move to them and then to a now distant wall.


“No, it’s not real,” he repeats, a mantra as he continues towards Sam.

The movement is a black mass that slinks across the floor like phlegm oozing down a wall.

Steve’s steps begin to hasten despite the mantra, but he freezes as it draws close to him.

It rises beside him, black goblets dripping in elongated strands of mucus. It reaches out and he quickly windmills his arm to knock it away.

His arm becomes a memory as his shocked gaze fixates on the stump at his elbow. His arm had as much effect as butter swung at a hot instrument.

Steve howls. “It’s not real!”

The mass falls down on him.

Wellington’s Place Apartments

[WP] You walk the same way to work every day, and you’re sure that building wasn’t there before.

Jim’s amulet was an enigma. He had worn it his whole life, and it had sparked a conversation with a coworker when it fell loose as he was tying his shoe. “It could be worth a lot of money,” his coworker suggested. He could never part with it, of course, but that didn’t stop him from being curious. The amulet had been in his family for generations. How long exactly—he wasn’t quite sure.

Like a horse to water, his curiosity led him to an online search once he was home. It was hard to find specific information no matter how he described the thing. The black sapphire in its center was promising though. It didn’t seem like they were used often, and his search eventually led him to occult corners of the web. Ready to call it quits, he finally came across a historical cataloging of trinkets believed to have various protection benefits, along with the trinket’s origin. His amulet was in the list and his brief feeling of success was quickly replaced with a growing anxiety. It was listed as an evil-ward, and its origins are voodoo.

Voodoo, he thought with a growing since of dread. Had his family been involved in some way? Why would his family keep passing down something related to voodoo? Maybe they just didn’t know. After all, they didn’t have the internet. Surely, that’s it. Yes. They just weren’t aware of its origins. He had taken it off and stored it in a box beside his computer.

The next morning, he’s walking his everyday route to work. His head is still reeling from the night before. With a suitcase in one hand, he’s looking down at the phone held in the other. He periodically leans or turns away from passersby, but the wiki on voodoo has him transfixed. A lot of the information refers to various protection rites, seeming like voodoo was more often used for doing good than it was for harm.

A horn blares as he’s about to step off the sidewalk. He looks up too find he’s at a corner that he doesn’t recognize. Had he gone to far? He looks back and then to the nearby street sign. No. His left turn isn’t for another couple of blocks. He looks over to the building in this corner lot. Where did that come from? He thinks back, trying to figure out what was supposed to be there. A parking lot. This is supposed to be a parking lot. He stops a passerby then gestures to the building. “Excuse me. Do you know what this is?”
“Of course, I do,” says the disgruntled man. “It’s the Wellington’s Place Apartments.”

“Has it been here long?”

“What, are you new or something? The place is a city landmark. Been here for decades.”

“Landmark? Why would an apartment building be a landmark?”

“They’ve got tours, see for yourself. That Wellington turned out to be a real nut job, killed a bunch of people, hid them in the foundation, the walls, that sort of thing…and that was just during construction. He kept killing residents too. Eventually, people caught on, but he hanged himself in there before they were able to take him away. The city cleaned it up, but no one lives there anymore. Eventually, they claimed it as a landmark and now do tours…which is what you’ll have to do if you want to know anything else. I’m running late for work.”

The man walks away, and Jim stares slack jawed as he absently reaches for an empty space on his chest.

Dead Drive

[WP] You’re scouting the apocalyptic ruins when you happen upon something strange. A couple you knew before they were zombies, who were on the brink of divorce at the time, having what appears to be an argument, just with typical zombie moaning. How much of them is still inside?

The cattle drive is just like all the previous ones, grueling and boring until it isn’t. A pack of wolves run into the heard, scattering them. A rider draws his six shooter to defend them but his horse is spooked and begins to turn away, causing him to lose his hat to the wind in the process. He yanks at the harness, driving his spurs deeper, finally getting the horse oriented back in the right direction.

Several wolves have singled out and leaped onto the back of a cow, driving it to the ground. The rider hesitates, realizing that wolves don’t hunt that way. He pulls back the hammer, then drops it as a plume of smoke peels away. The wolf is jolted by the impact but otherwise continues to gnaw at the cow’s backside. Several more shots follow, and the single wolf finally goes down as the others continue their task.

The rider looks around more gunfire rings out around him. A moment later and the wolves leave the cow as they chase down another cow. The rider dismounts and begins reloading his pistol as he walks over to the dead cow. He looks it over. Its eyes are white and very little blood comes from its wounds, the result of a still heart most like. He holsters his sidearm and walks over to the dead wolf. It smells awful and its fur is matted with something other than fresh blood. A closer inspection reveals its gums pulled away from its teeth and wounds that seem much older than his gunshots.

A mulling sound has him spin and draw his weapon again. He backs away as the cow rocks and tries to regain its feet. After trying and failing multiple times, it seeming to extend its neck to him, he notices that one of the wolves managed to ravage its leg so it cannot stand. He draws the hammer back as he approaches it again. It reaches towards him, and he hears a clicking sound as its teeth chomp together in his direction. His nose wrinkles as he squeezes the trigger, shooting it in the head. It falls still immediately.
Some other riders gallop over to meet up with him. The horses nay and try to pull away as they draw closer. “John,” one of them hollers. “You didn’t get injured did you?”

John pauses to look himself over. “Nah. I seem to be alright.” He turns and raises his hand over his eyes. “I seem to have lost my hat and horse though. Any chance we can round up the heard again before nightfall?”

The rider climbs down and passes his reins to another. He walks up to John as he pulls off his gloves and looks down at the cow. He shakes his head. “We’re calling it John. I think those wolves were infected with that new strain of rabies we’ve been hearing about out west. If you get infected, not even death can cure you. You just keep moving and trying to attack every living thing around you. Me and some of the other boys are heading back to get our own ranches in order. I suggest you do the same.”

John nods. “Any chance, I could get one of you to round up horse? I should have an extra hat in my saddle bag.

“One of the boys is already on it. Just hope those carriers didn’t turn their attention on it.”

A short time later, another rider arrives with John’s horse in tow. “Much obliged partner.”

The rider nods. “A group of us are sticking together as far as the Lancaster Ranch. You’re welcome to join us up until we go our separate ways from there.”

“I reckon I will,” John replies. “Obliged again.” He pets the neck of his horse, it seeming much calmer now. “Easy girl,” he whispers. He gets into his bag to retrieve his other hat. He then replenishes the ammo on his belt and ensures his rifle is fully loaded. He finally climbs back on and nods to the other rider.

The group of them travel at a brisk pace, finally separating at the agreed upon location. John decides to continue into town to acquire more ammo should this strain of rabies turns out to require more ammunition than he typically keeps on hand. Purchasing the extra ammo is going to hurt considering he wasn’t able to collect on this last job but he would need to avoid getting infected if he intended to complete any more drives.

Riding into town is a bit off putting so he stops on the outskirts of town. No one is really moving around the town which is odd. It’s the only town around for over thirty miles so it’s typically buzzing with activity. He only sees the two people standing outside the Sheriff’s station, seeming to argue about something. Several horses are tied to hitching post outside of the saloon, but their reins are all drawn tight as they all lay on the ground. Aside from the arguing couple, the only other activity comes from the tumble weed that crosses the street, disappearing between buildings.

He pushes into town, feeling that he may need that ammo more than he originally believed. He approaches the couple outside of the station, then hears their teeth clacking together as they face one another. He then realizes he recognizes them as the Winchester couple. He knew they were prone to arguing and thought they were having some sort of passive aggressive stare off but then he also recognizes the symptoms of the rabies strain. He wonders if some part of them is still in there somewhere but quickly dismisses it as habits they had established from arguing so frequently.

He dismounts and ties his horse to a post before approaching any further. He draws his firearm and then a backup. He pulls back each hammer and aims at each of their heads. The sequential blasts hit them at a near identical time and they collapse into one another. John looks around as he holsters the backup pistol. He unties the horse again and leads the horse inside the station as he keeps the other pistol at the ready.

Tables and chairs are knocked aside, and a corpse is laid in the middle of the floor, its head a canoe as a V shaped splatter stretches out across the floor. Another corpse is against a wall with a similar stain behind its slouched form. The horse follows along without much fuss, so he releases its reigns to pull a shotgun from a rack. He holsters it in his saddlebag before scavenging ammo and pistols from the corpses. He finishes up, then leads his horse back towards the door, making his way to the general store. He steps out onto the station’s porch, then immediately backs into the doorway once again. The streets have come alive, now something closer to what he was originally expecting, only it’s not the signs of life he had anticipated.

Family Practice

[WP] Even in a zombie apocalypse, the duty of a doctor will not stop.

With reading glasses slid to the tip of his nose, the old man reads through the paper’s article. He sits in his old recliner, in his robe and underwear with half a glass of whiskey on the table next to him. He scoffs and downs the rest of the drink. He shakes his head as he rolls the glass around in his palm.

He throws the glass and it bursts against the far wall. “Bunch of brain dead pricks. Wouldn’t know malpractice if it bit ’em in the ass.” He scoffs and rereads sections of the article. “Unethical? Inhumane? Don’t they see what’s going on out there? How in the hells are we supposed to figure any of this out if we don’t try anything new? I’ve been running my own family practice for 37 years! What makes a 20 something year old brat think he knows better than I do?”

A knock sounds on the front door. The old doctor looks towards the front door and then over to the clock. 11:47. “Who in the world would be here at this hour?” He closes his robe and makes his way to the front window. He peers out, seeing only blackness. The knock comes again. “Who’s there?” He leans against the door but hears no response. Again, a knock.

Growing impatient, the doctor reaches over and flips on the porch light before yanking open the door. “What in the hell do you–” He cuts short as he recognizes the corpse standing in his doorway. “Francis? Geez! You’re all climbing out of your graves now too?

Francis takes a lumbering step through the doorway and the doctor back pedals, trying to find furniture to put between them. “Now just stay back.” He finally backs into a rack next to the fire place and pulls out a fire poker.

Francis casually walks past the doctor. He walks over to the kitchen table, pulls out a chair, then sits down before looking over at the doctor, expectantly. The doctor just stares, confused. Francis finally raises a hand and points to his right jaw where bone is exposed. The doctor shakes his head. “I realize you were a faithful patient Francis but this is a little ridiculous. I must be dreaming.”

The doctor zones out and looks away from the kitchen. Francis groans and points at his jaw more insistently. “Yeah, I can see that Francis. Your jaw is rotted through. What did you expect? You’ve been dead for over a year.”

Another knock raps on the door. The doctor and Francis both look to the door then back to one another. “Did you bring anyone with you?” Francis just stares blankly and his teeth click together in response. The doctor shakes his head. “I’m talking to a corpse, expecting a coherent response. I really am loosing my mind.”

The knock comes again and the doctor goes back to the front door. He pulls it open to see a line of former patients leading away from the front door. “Barbra? And Ron? Is that little Susie back there too?” The doctor rubs the back of his head before pushing the glasses higher up on his nose. “This is going to be a long, awkward night.”

Hell’s Riddle

[WP] When you were sent to Hell, you expected fire, brimstone and hordes of demons. But upon your arrival you found nothing but a barren wasteland and a single lonely imp.

Had it been hours? Days? How long have I been here exactly? I had always heard the saying, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” but as I look around, I see no fury at all. There is no fire or pain, only this endless, featureless expanse of red-grey.

Everything lacking contrast is a different kind of suffering. My feet walk on a surface but there is no distinguishing it from any other direction. Surely, this is hell isn’t it? It must be. I died after all and I imagine Heaven’s gate keeper would have quite the laugh if I showed up there.

The only sign of life and the only feature in this place is the single imp that now follows me. It doesn’t respond–well not coherently anyways. It seems half dazed, eyes opened in narrow slits and looking straight ahead. It just floated there when I initially approached. I tried asking it questions but every time I spoke, it opened its mouth, releasing a brain piercing scream that drove me to my knees.

I finally gave up on asking questions or talking to it. I tried walking away only to be met with another scream. Every step that I took led to another bolt of pain that entered my head and radiated through my entire body. After trying to walk away in multiple directions, I finally stepped in a direction that didn’t elicit that pain inducing scream. The imp has been following me ever since but I dare not ask why. Am I being tested in some way? How far will I need to travel in this direction? I wonder what happens if I stop walking this direction?


Hunted Hunter

[WP] I’ve heard of stories of the monsters that lurked in the dark, creatures that would rip you apart mercilessly in a heartbeat. But when my father, the last of my family, had an axe split through his skull by a band of killers, I realized I had nothing left to lose by fleeing into the shadows.

The line of trees ahead of me are back-lit by the brightest full moon I’ve ever witnessed. As I flee my father’s killers, the shadows of the haunted wood seem to reach towards me. We rapidly approach on a collision course and I’m forced to wonder if I’m only trading one demise for another.

I spare a backwards glance as I break the threshold. Torchlights bound across the darkened field as they pursue. My fear for my life is the only means that pushed me into this place. Let us hope their blood-lust doesn’t also rise to the task.

All aid of the moon’s light abandons me as the treetop canopy robs me of illumination. With hands outstretched, I barrel through branches and barbs alike. My stride is high kneed as my footing becomes unsure and awkward. My shirt snags on something. I spin, then tumble through the underbrush. All is still for a moment and I strain to listen for my pursers.

“Spread out! He can’t have gone far!”
“B-but… this is the haunted–“

“Enough of that nonsense. No such thing. You know the boss’s rule. No witness. Now get in there and root him out.”

Still they come? Was it not enough to rob me of my family, my home? With my head pressed into the forest floor, them bursting through our front door replays through my mind. Just do as we say, they said. No one will get hurt, they promised… they lied. I picture the axe falling from behind my father and the plea in his eyes, urging me to run. My teeth are forced together as a tear is forced out of my eye.

I look back towards the voices, then sit up as my will firms. The trees ahead of me become back-lit by torchlight but my vision is adjusting to the dark and I won’t need it to see. I unsheathe the blade that is strapped across my back and melt further into the shadows. I can’t speak to whether or not this forest can kill but it will contain death this night. I’ll run no longer.

The group of torchbearers make their way through the woods, nervous looks on all of their faces. A branch breaks just outside of their torchlight. They all orient on the sound, then another sound makes them do a 180.

One of their number is collapsing to his knees, the torch drops in front of him as he grasps at a blood fountain in his neck. The other men back away from their comrade as he collapses, face down.
There are just the three of them now. They each make frantic turns, grasping their torch and waving it as if to bat away the darkness.


The moment’s soundtrack is that of flickering flames, frantic breathing, and their own heartbeats that sound as though they are beating against their eardrums. The symphony is interrupted by a new whirling sound as two of the three turn towards it. The third’s head rocks to the side as a blade plunges into his temple, where he immediately falls like a felled tree.

One of the last two survivors takes off running in another direction. Only a few moments pass before his outcry is cut short. The last of the men stands firm, his torch in one hand and a hatchet in the other. Blood still drips off the weapon’s edge. His eyes play tricks on him as shapes seem to form outside of his torchlight.

“I know you’re there! Show yourself!”

As if to answer his command, a shape steps into the survivor’s torchlight and then walks past him. It’s the boy they were pursuing. He’s covered in blood and doesn’t acknowledge the torchbearer as he walks over and crouches next to the knife bearer. He takes hold of the handle and pauses.

“I suppose I should thank all of you.” He wrenches the blade back and forth before prying it from the corpse’s skull. “Fleeing into these woods.” He waves the blood drenched blade as he gestures around them. The dropped torches have set the ground on fire and it now illuminates the entire area around them. “Killing all of your men…it made me remember something…something important.” He smacks the wet blade against the flat of his hand. “You see that wasn’t my father…not my real one anyways. He found me out here when I was younger. When you killed him, I thought you had driven me from my home but instead, you drove me back to it. So I guess I should thank you. Please, allow me this parting gift.”

The torch’s flame seems to flicker in a great gust of wind and suddenly the boy is behind the torchbearer. The torch falls from his hand, then he collapses to his knees, the impact causing his head to tumble loosely across the forest floor. The boy’s silhouette then disappears from the fire’s glow.