Hey everyone! Happy Halloween! Since this is like my Christmas time, and I have no virtual candy to give, I’d like to give everyone a treat. Here is a story I wrote a while back titled Natural Selection.
The gifts started to show up in her backyard right about the time Karen moved into her new house on Brook Street.
First it was the roses that were placed on the back porch. Karen thought a neighbor had left them as a house warming gift. But when she went door to door that evening, trying to thank every household on the street, no one confessed. She filled a glass vase with water and put the roses on her dining room table. After all, she thought, they were too beautiful to toss in the trash.
The next gift came a week later. It was some fresh honey comb and figs, all wrapped up in a large, green palm leaf. The aroma of the honey and figs was so sweet and tart smelling that it made Karen’s mouth water. She almost ate it too, until she remembered that she didn’t know where the food had come from. Was it ok to eat? Was someone watching her, a secret admirer perhaps? Who would go through the trouble? No one except her family and a few friends knew where she was, yet alone the fact that she had taken the job as first chair flutist in the Philharmonic Orchestra of Los Angeles.
Martin…, she thought, Conductors are all dogs! I bet this was all your idea…but still…
Karen smelled the food one last time and sighed with disappointment as she tossed it, with much regret, into the garbage disposal.
And now, this morning, a dark leather bag hung on her patio chair. Karen walked over to it and lifted the bag into her delicate hands. It juggled in her fingers. She opened the top and the wooden cork came off with a pop, splashing crimson droplets on her white arms.
Inside, a deep red color sloshed around. She put her nose to the tip of the leather bag and sniffed.
“It’s wine,” she said to herself. Then Karen looked over to her barren grape vines that clung to a shabby wooden fence that rested against the entrance to a forested foothill.
“This would explain why I never grow any grapes.”
The realization made her laugh. Karen sniffed the wine once more and wondered what it tasted like. The idea both excited her and repulsed her. What if it was poisoned, she thought? Then she spotted the droplets on her wrist and arms. Karen brought her arm up to her soft lips and slowly licked a ruby colored dot with the tip of her tongue. The taste was sweet and it didn’t have any foulness to it that Karen could discern. Besides, she knew her wines. If anything, being in the L.A Phil had taught her that everyone drank copious amounts of the stuff.
Against her better judgment, she took the chance anyway and picked up the leather wine bag, taking in a healthy test swig.
And immediately, she spit it out.
The taste of sweet Muscat grapes mingled with a metallic, salty flavor that was all too familiar. It made her gag. She dropped the bag onto the floor and wine gushed out of it at a rapid pace. Karen ran to her kitchen sink, turned the faucet on high and proceeded to scoop handfuls of fresh water into her mouth. She gargled and spit but even with her mouth clean, the bitter sweet taste of the blood laced wine burned her tongue and cheeks.
Then, she felt a stinging in her throat.
Had she swallowed some? The thought was sobering. She began to feel flushed and faint.
“Help!” she shouted.
She whirled into the living room and stumbled to the coffee table. The panic started to set in. Her chest burned and she felt like she was breathing in hot coals from a hellish furnace. Sweating profusely, she managed to pick up the house phone and dialed 911.
“9-1-1, state your emergency.”
“Help-p me plea-” Her breathing shortened and her eyes bulged. Then, in a hazy flash, she blacked out.
The next day, Karen returned home from the hospital. The doctors gave her a clean bill of health after finding nothing wrong and only after they ran a battery of expensive test. The policemen were just as useless. They had gone to her house but found no evidence of the wild claim. Someone had cleaned up and washed the patio down. They suggested she lock up her backyard and not partake of strange food or drinks again.
“Thanks for nothing,” She said to the officers as they walked back to their patrol car. They turned the car’s siren on and sped off.
A few hours later, Karen installed a chain lock on the backyard gate. Then, she went upstairs, took a bath, then got dressed and stepped into her practice room.
Her nerves were shot. Her hands shook the flute as she tried to warm up. She had to calm down or she would never get this concerto solo down. Five years ago, she would have said screw it and went to bed instead but now she had a reputation to build and keep.
Her hands shook again.
She went back down stairs and to the fridge. Pulling the wine out seemed like a fantastic idea at first, great way to settle the nerves, but after what just happened, she placed it back into the fridge. She grabbed the brandy bottle instead from the bar in her living room along with a glass and went back upstairs to work.
The brandy swirled in her glass snifter and soon the bottle was empty. The sweet liquor made her warm and flustered. She got up and opened the window letting in a cool mountain breeze of fresh, crisp night time air. Feeling better, she went back to practicing. As she played the final bars of the concerto, she suddenly stopped, mid-note, and looked to the window.
Outside in the darkness, she heard what sounded like an echo of her own instrument. She played a measure of music as loud as she could and checked, waiting for a response.
Nothing but silence came.
Karen shook her head and a smile of relief spread across her lips. “Brandy will do that to ya!” she said, and laughed as she picked the flute back up to her mouth to play.
On the breeze, the phantom flute played back the measure of music.
Karen froze. She dropped her flute as the color drained from her face. A chill went though her body as she realized that someone was in her backyard.
Impossible, she thought. I locked the-
The phantom music played again.
Karen went to the window and slowly peered her head over the sill.
In the moonlight, below in the foliage and shadows, a creature looked up at her. Its short, pearl colored horns and red eyes seemed bright in comparison to the shiny black hair that covered its body. The creature, which looked like a small man, grinned up at her. Its horrible razor sharp teeth gleamed in the moons light.
“Oh god!” Karen muttered. Her body shook as she backed away from the window.
The thing cackled a dry laugh and ran for her back door.
Karen screamed. She swung open her practice room door and barreled down the stairs. When she reached the last few steps, she saw it.
The creature was waiting for her in the kitchen.
It was shorter than her and appeared almost human like. Something she didn’t except. The smell though, was overpowering. A combination of feces and wild animal hit Karen’s nostrils almost knocking her out.
“Eggnak!” The thing shouted to her in a language she never heard before. It motioned to its nasty crotch. A hard, pink, erect penis stood in a mottle of matted, dirty hair.
Karen screamed again, a stream of tears started to flow down her face. “Go away!” she yelled.
The beast had the dark leather wine bag slung over his shoulder. He grabbed it, swung it around and threw it on the floor between itself and Karen.
“Nog bladuu!” it squelched. “Nog gak bladuu!” The goat man lifted his shaggy arm and wiggled its clawed finger back and forth at her the way a school teacher tells a child that he or she’s been very naughty.
Karen refrained from vomiting, trying her best to maintain her composure.
“What do you want?” she shouted. “Go away! Please!” Her knuckles turned white as she gripped the stair’s railing.
The beast walked towards her slowly and its hoofs clacked on the black and white tile floor.
“Setesh…” it said. The monster cocked its head to the side and extended an arm out towards her in what seemed like an attempt to calm her down. “Setesh, woo setesh.” It said, again, slowly waving its arm and monstrous hand, palm down, at her.
“W-what? I- I don’t understand…” She stumbled with her words.
The beast walked closer, “Setesh… Woo… Setesh.”
“Please. Go away. Just… go away!”
With one arm still stretched out to her, the beast produced a small, knobby brown club from the crimson belt that hung on its hairy torso.
“God! No!” She turned and ran up the stairs and headed back to the practice room.
The beast shrilled the raspy laugh again and with club high above its head and its hard, hairy penis swinging wildly from side to side, the goat man gave pursuit.
Karen made it to the practice room just in time to slam the door closed and lock it. The sounds of hoof steps clamored closer and closer.
“Help, someone help me!” she screamed out her open window. Behind her, the door knob shook violently. The beast pounded and scratched at the oak wood, laughing the entire time. Its shadow was vaguely visible underneath the closed door gap.
Karen took her flute and cradled it to her chest like a baby. She started to cry, rolled into a ball on the floor next to her music stand and rocked.
“It’s all a dream. It’s all a dream. It’s-”
A loud thud came, followed by a snort of frustration and the noise of hoof steps. Hoof steps that were, from the sound of it, walking away.
Karen opened her eyes and looked towards the door. No shadow. No sound. Had it gone away? All she could do was hope.
She cautiously stood up and walked very slowly to the wall, her eyes never leaving the space gap underneath the doorway.
Quickly, she searched for the phone.
The phone wasn’t on its charger. It wasn’t even in the room.
“Damn it!” She had left it down stairs, “Fuck! Damn it!” she whispered, a tear rolled down her red cheek. She punched her fist into her palm and glanced again at the door.
I need to get that phone, she thought. Carefully, she walked to the door and put her ear on it and listened. No sound came, although the stench of the goat man still lingered in the air. Karen picked up the flute from the floor and screwed it tight to form a crude weapon.
“What the hell am I doing?” she whispered softly. Her face tensed with fear as she bit her lips. This is fucken crazy, she thought, I just need to wait here.
The idea seemed ok for a second but then she realized the error of it. If she waited here, there was no telling when help will come and there was no guarantee that the creature had gone away. Somehow, Karen knew that the goat man, that monster, would never leave her alone.
A solid 20 minutes had gone by before she even reached for the door’s knob. Karen listened one last time.
It was now or never.
Karen unlocked the door and opened it a crack, just enough for her to see through. There was nothing in the hallway. She swung the door open the rest of the way and stepped into the hall. The smell still permeated the air but by now, she had gotten used to it. With her flute held tightly like a baseball bat, she glanced at the stairs and down to the first floor. She could see the phone on the coffee table in the living room where she had left it the day before. Drawing a deep breath in, she headed for the stairs.
As Karen started her descent down the steps, behind her, a door creak open. Her bedroom door. Karen’s heart stopped and she gasped. The adrenaline surged in her veins and quickly she spun around.
“Kaga!” the thing screamed.
The goat man was nose to nose with her. Its foul breath bellowed onto her face, disorienting her vision as she gazed into a gaping maw of sharpened teeth. All Karen could do was scream a scream of death and madness as the hard, knobby club came down and cracked her right between the eyes. Her body made a sickening thud as she collapsed and dropped to the floor next to the goat man’s hoofs.
When Karen came to, she found herself propped up against a rocky wall in a torch lit cave. The dirt floor scrapped her skin as she moved her body to look around. In the distant darkness, past the torches, the sound of water flowed and there was a smell…
Oh dear lord, she remembered, that smell!
Her head throbbed as she tried to grasp the situation.
“No… God, please. This isn’t real.” she said. “I’m… dreaming…”
A scream of pain echoed through the cave and it made her flinch with pain. This was no dream. She made an effort to stand up but was suddenly jerked back down to the hard ground. Someone had chained her to the wall. Metal cufflinks bit deep into her wrist. They made a cold, clacking sound as she franticly tried to wiggle free.
“That’s not gonna work, honey. We’ve all tried that. It’s no use.”
Five feet away, chained up just like Karen was, sat a slim brunette woman. Her naked breast popped out of the torn shirt she wore. The woman’s shirt barely covered the gapping, dried wounds that seemed to criss-cross her entire body. She was bare from the waist down.
“Who are you? What’s going on?” Karen yelled.
“Shh!” the woman hissed low at Karen. “Keep quiet. You want them to come back?”
Karen shook her head and whispered, “Why are we chained up like this? What’s that creature? That thing?”
“I don’t know…” the woman said, then paused for a second to lick her dry lips moist, then she continued. “I think their Satyrs.”
“What? Those creatures from Greek mythology?” Karen was stunned.
“Yhea. Those ones.”
“What do they want with us?”
“Don’t know, except they rape us every time they come in here.” The woman’s face contorted into an expression of anguish and hopelessness. “That’s why we need to be quiet, you understand me, honey?”
Karen nodded her head again. “But you said us? Are there more people down here?”
“Yes. A girl used to be where you are right now but…” The woman looked down at the ground.
“But what? What happened to her?”
“They ate her. They raped her and they ate her. She couldn’t give them what they wanted. She kept yelling at them, ““I can’t do that for you, I can’t, I can’t””… so they ate her.”
Overwhelmed with emotion, Karen glanced to her left, out towards the far end of the cave. Another woman, the upper half of her body showing past some darkened rocks, was sitting on the floor.
“Who is that?” Karen said, “Over there?”
“I don’t know her. I think she might be dead already. She hasn’t made a noise in-” She stopped to think as she stared into the ground again “I’ve been in here for weeks, honey. No- months. I can’t really tell anymore.” The woman took a deep breath in, then exhaled it out slowly before looking up at Karen.
“My name is Mary. Mary Chesterfield.”
“I’m Karen. Karen Barnes.” Karen’s voice was soaked with a depressing tone. Both women looked up as another scream, this time faint, came through.”
“So what now?” Karen asked.
Mary shrugged her shoulders. “We wait.”
The click-clack of hoof steps steadily grew louder. “Oh god! Their coming. Quick, pretend you’re asleep!” Mary said, then closed her eyes and slumped her body against the rocks.
A group of three Satyrs came into the cavern, one held an eerily familiar leather bag. The unidentified woman, the one that Mary thought was dead, began to rustle and moan from pain. The three beasts held her down and she began to scream. One goat man opened the wine and poured it, laughing as the woman’s screams turned to gargles of wet torture.
Then, they began pushing on her stomach. Karen couldn’t see it at first, but as the woman’s body ungulate up and down with the force, she saw her pregnant belly bulge
More satyrs entered, a big group this time, and walked over to the other three. The pushing and prodding by the creatures continued for what seemed like hours until finally, a baby cried. Its whine echoed throughout the cave. A satyr held it up in the air and the others cheered. The baby was a slick mess of blood and black hair! Karen screamed. A knot grew in her belly as she vomited.
The group noticed her outburst and they all looked towards her direction. One by one they walked over to Karen until they surrounded her in a tight arching circle. They smiled toothy grins at each other as their throbbing, horrible erections swayed with their laughter.
“It’s just a dream… It’s just a dream… It’s just a dream…” Karen sobbed hysterically as the group of monsters, minus the one holding the satyr baby, closed in on top of her.
Outside the cave, in the night time forest cove that lay against the foothill, Karen’s screams were slowly drowned out by the sweetest melody of a pan flute lullaby.