Don’t Let the Boo Hag Ride Ya

Charleston City, South Carolina, is where it started. You might hear the saying “don’t let the boo hag ride ya” as goodnight. It is an old Gullah woman phrase that they use to warn loved ones. Boo hags are witch-like creatures that sit astride your chest while you sleep and steal away your breath.

Boo hags are not witches. They are not human. They disguise themselves in human skin, which they will steal from victims who awake during their feeding. They are more closely related vampires.

They won’t steal enough of their victims energy to cause death – just enough to sustain them. The consequence of being a boo hag’s victim is exhaustion, both mental and physical.

Boo hags are also like specters once they drop their skin disguises. They can fit through the tiniest crack. But, also like vampires, sunlight will kill them if they are not back in their stolen hides before sunrise.

The people of Charleston City knew they had a boo hag when the skinless body of Tyrell Jackson was found. Tyrell was on iron supplements for anemia, but in truth it was a boo hag. She stole his skin and is still using it to get around.

There are defenses against these unholy creatures, according to Gullah legend. Like vampires, they cannot cross running water. Unlike their blood-sucking cousins, they don’t have the best eyesight. The color blue painted across thresholds may fool a boo hag into thinking there is an aquatic barrier.

Another tactic to delay a boo hag. They have an obsessive compulsive nature. A boo hag cannot pass by something without knowing how much of it there is. So, if you have a broom they must count the strands in it. Salt also works to occupy them. It can also dry out their skinless bodies, as well.

If you have been waking up tired even after a full night’s sleep, it could be a boo hag has been riding your chest and stealing your breath. Best way to tell is to keep her from getting in or keep her busy counting after she has. Just don’t catch her in the act or it could literally be your skin.

©2016, Brian James Lane

A Might Peckish

Fog End was not always true to its namesake. The small hamlet was little more than a watering hole between larger villages.  It lay at the valley between mountain ranges along the trade route westward.

February fog meant spring still far off. It was going to be a while until the trees sprouted leaves again.  Fog meant cold.  And tonight, the fog was thicker than the layer of dust in the Dew Back Saloon.

Only three were in the place, Henry the bartender, Elton the town drunk, and Levi who was just lonesome for another soul. Henry said, “quiet as the grave tonight.”

A stranger walked in and spoiled the silence. He was clad in many animal hides.  “You a fur trapper, mister?” Henry asked.

“Yup,” he said.

“Pour you a drink?” Henry offered.

“Smelled your chimney smoke. I am a might peckish,” the fur trapper said.

“No kitchen here. Just spirits and beer,” Henry explained.

“Then, I’ll head out.”

“Wait a minute, sir. Warm by the fire.  A gentleman needs conversation,” Levi said.

“Maybe just warm up.”

The large man sat next to Levi.

Elton placed his head on the table and promptly fell asleep. Henry went back behind the bar to wash glasses.  “You made it through the pass?  Must have been teen feet of snow up there,” Levi said.

“Fifteen.”

Levi replied, “Incredible.”

The man merely nodded.

“What’s your name?” Levi asked.

He didn’t reply. Levi asked again, “What do you call yourself?”

“Wendigo,” he said.

Behind the bar, Henry dropped a glass. It shattered loudly.  The stranger didn’t seem to notice.

“Henry? What’s wrong?” Levi asked.

“What did he say?” Henry asked.

“Wendigo,” the man repeated.

Henry bolted outside before Levi knew what had happened.

“What got into him?” Levi asked.

“He must know the legend.”

“What?”

“Wendigo. When a man must eat the flesh of another man to survive, an evil spirit enters him.  He never again can taste anything but raw human flesh.”

The large man stood, removing several layers of skins. Levi noticed in horror that some of the hides had human faces.

“Wendigo craves nothing else. Smelled the smoke from your chimney. I am a might peckish.”

©2016, Brian James Lane

 

The Post-Apocalyptic Psychiatrist

The mountain range behind the doctor was majestic. The rocky spires were sharply contrasted by brilliantly white snow on the north sides and dark grey on the south showing the expose rock face. Jill sighed deeply in appreciation.

The psychiatrist’s office on the 18th floor had a huge overhead to cover. The real-estate alone was sky high. That is not to mention the good doctor’s rates, either. The best doesn’t come cheap.

While aware of these facts, Jill didn’t fret. She considered it part of her payment for having a husband who travelled so much. He made them both rich, but only in the financial sense.

“I understand that these are recurring in nature, Jill.”

Jill replied, “Yes. What happens changes, but the setting is the same.”

“A dystopian post-apocalyptic future,” she said.

The woman nodded, urging Jill to continue. “Last night it was one of the worst kinds,” Jill admitted.

“How’s that?” The doctor asked.

Jill took a deep breath and continued. “I drew bait duty. It is where you have to sit above ground in an exposed area and wait for nightfall. Then, the cockroaches come and try to eat you alive. I don’t know if it is the radiation or lack of food, but the roaches will strip a person of their flesh in minutes. But they are the only food, so we have to draw them out somehow.”

The doctor replied, “What do the cockroaches symbolize in your life?”

Jill shook her head. She paced the office floor, searching for meaning in the pattern of the carpet. She found none.

“Why bait?” The doctor added.

Jill confessed, “I just thought it was stress.”

“There is a deeper meaning to dreams. We have to interpret them through the lens of experience,” the doctor explained.

“I just want the nightmares to end,” said Jill.

The doctor replied, “Perhaps when you wake up, we can try.”

“What?” Jill asked.

She was shaken awake. It was Reek. She knew before she opened her eyes. His body odor gave him away. “I said ‘wake up’. It’s almost dark and they will be coming for you soon.”

Reek scampered off. Jill sighed again. She hated bait duty.

©2016, Brian James Lane

 

Death Stops for Directions

Long before the advent of electronic navigation, even before the arrival of the Internet, Mr. Death had been circumnavigating the globe as part of his daily rounds. He knew every nook and cranny of the planet for that is where many people tried to hide from him. Death was great at finding his way around.

And so it had been for generations upon generations. That was until the invention of tract housing in the fifties and sixties. Up until that point, houses were distinguishable.

People seldom offered to help Death for fear that the favor would one day be repaid. So, it was no surprise that on the ninth day of February he could not find anyone that could point him to his next appointment. But, that wasn’t the half of it. He was behind schedule, as well.

Death glanced at his ledger and saw a Mrs. Rowina Cassiday at 363 Birch Street. “Mrs. Cassiday, you had better not keep me waiting,” Death murmured.

Snow masked the house numbers, blanketing the houses in yet another level of anonymity. Death looked at the seemingly endless rows of mailboxes. He brushed off a thin dusting of snow from several boxes with skeletal fingers. Finally, he found the one. 363. The light was on, he noticed.

Death walked up to the door and knocked. After a while, a young man answered the door. “Is your mother at home?” Death asked.

The boy looked Mr. Death up and down, paying particular attention to the tall scythe in his bony hand. “My mother? I live with my aunt,” the boy said.

“I am trying to find Mrs. Rowina Cassiday at 363 Birch Street,” Death clarified.

“Oh,” said the boy, “you want Ms. Richards at 336 Birch Street. She is going by her maiden name after her husband left her.”

“336?” Death questioned.

“Yes, up the street on the other side a few houses,” said the boy.

Death thanked him and departed. The boy closed the door. His mother came out of the kitchen. “Is he gone?” She asked.

“Yes, you’re safe,” replied the boy.

“What did you tell him?” His mother asked.

“Not much. I never liked Ms. Richards anyway.”

©2016, Brian James Lane

 

Beta Testers Wanted

“Wanted: Beta Testers” read the advertisement. Might be fun, I thought.  I have always loved video games.  It would not be the first time I tried one in development.

I clicked the “more info” button and then was taken to another web site.  I had to create a login, password, and verify with my email address.  I was then provided with a link to the beta program, which I downloaded after running it through a few virus scanning filters.  You can never be too careful.

The installation program created a shortcut to a game called “FIRST PERSON HORROR MUD”. It was not the most creative title.  However, some beta games intentionally don’t provide testers with too much information as it may influence their feedback.

I knew that first person meant it was going to look like it was through my eyes and MUD stood for Multi-User-Dungeon. This meant there would probably be other beta testers in the virtual environment.  Also, I love survival horror games.  I launched the game.

The graphics were incredible. Immediately, I was immersed in a creepy graveyard.  It was raining.  I navigated with the keyboard shortcuts until I found a mortuary in which to take shelter.  A gaunt mortician greeted me.

“Pretty cool game,” I typed in the dialog box.

The response was quick. He said, “You really should not use the same password for different applications.”

“What?” I asked.

“The same one you registered for this game was also used for your email and Facebook accounts. I have changed those passwords,” Replied the mortician.

This wasn’t funny, I thought. The mortician was probably another beta tester who was just messing with me.  “I am going to report you to the system admin,” I threatened.

I considered turning off the game at this point, but something in the way the character stared at me made me hesitate. The mortician’s speech bubble read, “I know your address, too.”

“Leave me alone,” I typed.

“I know your parents aren’t home,” he said.

My doorbell rang. I screamed out, then laughed at myself.  I was letting the atmosphere of the game get to me.

“Aren’t you going to let me in?” The mortician asked.

©2016, Brian James Lane

Spectator Sport

Blood ran in the now lost civilization known as the Dolmë-bagádata. It ran in literal torrents down an aqueduct.  Blood was mixed with corn husks, water, and dirt to form bricks.  Bricks that constructed a colosseum.

The Bagádatians operated on an intricate caste system, which was governed by many god and demi-gods. When citizens were born determined where they fit within that hierarchy.  Those born under the months of the corn harvest were sacrificed to provide blood for the bricks.

The colosseum itself was constructed to house 18,753. This man seem like an arbitrary number, but it was chosen because it spelled out the name of their benevolent main god named Haeka. He was represented by a large white stallion.

The name of Haeka spelled backwards is Akeah. The evil adversary.  She was represented by a black panther.

The Bagádatians were a fickle people, whose worship of deities changed frequently depending on circumstance. They could follow good or evil just as easily as one might change their minds about what to have for lunch.  It all depended on how fate played out.

This was the purpose of the colosseum. Known as the Pahalvana, the structure was conceived as way to determine the desire of the fates, who even ruled gods.  The outcome was determined by a blood sport.

One might think, based on the brutal and bloodthirsty rites of the Bagádatians that the competition would involve other humans. But this would not be the case.

A herd of white horses were raised and trained to fight. The strongest and most noble stallion was picked as the instrument of Haeka.  The trainers, who often lost their lives in raising the unruly beast, awaited to release the steed at the proper signal.

At the same time, other trainers captured and raised black panthers in an effort to select the most ferocious female feline of the litter. The two animals faced off against one another to the death.  Akeah was victorious, but not by much.

What the Bagádatians hadn’t realized was that in following the evil side, they would destroy themselves in the process. Thus, a civilization was lost.  Luckily, that is not something that could happen today.

©2016, Brian James Lane

 

Wrath of the Pig Woman

The small village of Rising Sun can boast of infamous legend. A myth so eerie that its countenance is that of hideous deformity. It is the face of the Maryland Pig Woman. She calls the garbage dump there her home.

That repulsive figure is outmatched by its evil. The monstrous Pig Woman stalks the lovelorn and lost.   Her fury, fueled by jealously, is unrivaled.

If you go through the Elkton Bridge towards lover’s lane on your way towards a memorable evening, you may find much more than you may have bargained. You may just find the time of your life.  The end of it, perhaps.  But maybe not in the way you might imagine.

Knowing she can never love with her unpalatable visage, the monster’s sole purpose in life is to torment others. She cannot abide happiness.  Least of which, she cannot tolerate love in any form.  She will destroy it.  But the seed of destruction takes root in the most unconventional of ways.

Be she born of generations of inbreeding, tragic accident, or simply a gross aberration of nature is unclear. What is certain is that she had claimed many a victim in a most repugnant of approach.  Her revenge against those who witness her wretched existence is unique.

The monstrous freak will not steal your life. She won’t even main or harm you, in the physical sense as many have claimed in the past.  What she will do is turn you away from love and desire in perpetuity.

To look upon her face is to burrow into your very psyche. The mere sight of her face will mar your ability to look upon others with longing.  You will lose all yearning for the intimate company of another.

The Pig Lady will meet your gaze. Her eyes will lock onto yours.  When they do, it is too late.  Your flesh will never yearn again.  You will never long for the company of another.

And then, when you awkwardly drive your date home, neither knowing what you ever saw in each other, the Pig Lady will laugh heartily. She will throw her ugly maw back and guffaw at the lover’s moon.

You have been warned.

©2016, Brian James Lane

Aunt Becky

“You kids behave. Your mother and I will be gone for a week until we get this all sorted out,” Father said.

Their mother glanced at Aunt Becky, who remained inside. She waved from behind a dirty window.  Mom smiled humorlessly and nodded.

Ginny and Melissa stood motionless. With a brief kiss each, their parents left.  The twins sighed.

They slowly turned to face the creepy house. It was in desperate need of repair.  Aunt Becky, however, was too old and too poor to fix it up.  Like her, the place was slowly falling apart.

Icicles hung from the gutter like teeth. The front door like an open mouth, awaiting prey.  The girls both shivered.

Could they spend a week there? Aunt Becky probably had nothing to eat.  It was almost certain she didn’t have any games or toys.  She probably didn’t have a television.

At long last, the two young girls went into the dilapidated house, lugging their matching suitcases. Aunt Becky cleared her throat and said, “We’re going to have ever so much fun, girls.”

Ginny tried to see his aunt. She was lit from behind by an inadequate lamp.  The light was too meager even in the afternoon.  At night, Ginny considered, it would be grossly insufficient at providing illumination.

Melissa reached out and grabbed her sister’s hand. Ginny gently squeezed back reassuringly.  “Now,” Aunt Becky said, “Go downstairs and unpack.  I’ve converted the sewing room into a guest room.”

The two young ladies made their way through the narrow hallway. They found the door at the end and opened it.  A rickety stairwell disappeared into darkness.

There a room bottom of the stairs. The two went inside.  A pull string attached to a single unadorned bulb provided the only light in the room.

It was empty except for the corner. There, a decrepit woman shivered. She cowered away from the girls, more afraid of them than they were of her.  She was filthy.

The figure turned and saw the girls. She smiled.  “Oh, thank goodness it’s you,” she said.

“Who are you?” Ginny asked.

She replied, “Oh honey. I thought you knew your Aunt Becky?”

They heard the door lock upstairs.

©2016, Brian James Lane

Birthday Surprise

 

The last man on earth sat on an empty street corner. He listened to the forlorn cry of the wind as she blew across the decimated city.  She tickled across some balloons and made them squeak.

After the bombs dropped, the man miraculously survived. He could only do that if he kept a strict discipline of hope.  Hope built on a foundation of schedule and responsibility.

Hope meant keeping occupied. Hope meant not giving up.  Most of all, hope meant not giving into insanity.  It was a constant fear the man staved off through his regimen.

His routine was simple, and went from sunrise to set. It was strategically designed to tax his body, mind, and soul.  The three tenets for sanity, he believed.

Physically, he worked cleaning. He rid the city of dead. He buried them.

After the attack, all electronic devices stopped. Elecro-Magnetic Pulse, he suspected.  He had to do everything by hand.  A wheelbarrow was his greatest technology.

At first he worried about radiation. Observation of animal life eliminated that threat.  Animals remained.  Perhaps it was a designer plague.  In any case, he seemed to be the only person that was immune.

In the late afternoons when he was too tired to work, he would read and memorize his Bible. This helped him keep his mind and soul active. He usually did this until it was too dark to read.

Today, however, was different somehow. Today he was afraid.  After he awoke, he saw a strange brightly colored cluster like a burst of fireworks in the night.  It was a discovery that would change everything.

The man examined the colorful balloons. They were tied to a brick.  A card in a bright yellow envelope lay partially exposed from underneath.

The pit in his stomach grew. How did it get there? Could there be someone else?  Who were they?  Dare he dream?

He was too afraid to open the birthday card. Finally, he reached out and grabbed it.

He clumsily opened it was shaking hands. He read it aloud and then began to cry.  It was in his own handwriting.  His birthday surprise, the man realized, was that he had finally gone insane.

©2016, Brian James Lane

The Unfortunate Consequence of the Dover Demon

Dover, Massachusetts, in the late 70s gave rise to a legend. A myth with a bulbous head, spindly arms and legs, tendril like fingers and large, orange eyes that glow in the dark. These are widely known characteristics of the beast that some believe is an alien from another world.

What is not well known is that the alien was one of several that were sent to the planet as a quarantine. Most aliens are sent to earth due to incurable illness.  Most die within a year.  But not the Dover Demon.  This monster remains alive.

The Dover Demon lives in wilderness, surviving by wits and determination. It has thus far eluded humans that know of its reason for being there.  The infamous “Men in Black”, for example.  This clandestine organization would like nothing better than to put an end to surviving aliens.

The “Men in Black” have covered up many aliens. Famous cases such as the Berwyn Mountain Incident, Roswell, Kecksburg, Rendlesham Forest, and even Area 51.  But they could not get to all of the aliens before they posed a threat to humans.

While most diseases the aliens’ carried were terminal, some were merely disfiguring. Such was the case with the Dover Demon.  Its sickness caused the joints to swell painfully to the point where it could not always walk upright.  Sometimes, it had to crawl on all fours like an animal.

This allowed small parasitic creatures to infest the alien. Tiny blood-sucking insects would become carriers of the alien sickness.  They were ticking time bombs.

One family never witnessed the Dover Demon, yet still became victims of it as they travelled south through New England. The creatures that had been feasting on the alien found the family dog. The creatures multiplied on the host, each carrying the alien disease within their bloodsucking bodies.  The parasites were ticks.

The family came to rest in the small town of Lyme, Connecticut. From that village, a previously unknown ailment ran rampant.  Lyme’s disease.  A more apt moniker might be the Dover Demon Disease.

But the more terrifying thought is this: what other alien diseases are out there just waiting to find their way to human-kind?

©2016, Brian James Lane