Two Horror Short Stories
by Roger Ley
Story 1: The Hunt
She tried to move quickly through the winter wood but brambles tore at her clothes and legs, her bare feet sank into the wet, black mud, branches clawed down to entangle her. The excited yelping of the hounds spurred her on but the softening ground sucked at every footstep. She fought for breath and tried to muffle the sound of her gasps. Crossing a clearing, she sank calf deep, and could run no further. Looking back, she could see the dim light from the swinging lanterns of the huntsmen, soon they would release the dogs.
She raised her arms above her head in supplication and called to the night sky. There was no answer, but her arms and splayed fingers began to stretch and lengthen. Her toes grew, reached into the dark wetness, and gripped the roots and rocks they found down there. She felt her limbs and body stiffen, skin ridged and cracked, thorns sprouted. Sight fading, she heard the dogs as they panted past, their masters slogging after them. Slowly sleep enfolded her, a deep sleep that would last until the spring, and bud burst on the blackthorn she had become.
Story 2: VACANT POSSESSION
This is the story of two fairly skinny white men on a planet that was dying fast.
Of course, the men were men only in their own eyes, in the eyes of other species they would have looked quite different. Oh, and it wasn’t the planet that was dying it was the planet’s population.
‘How long will it be before we can take vacant possession,’ asked the larger of the two. They had been hovering over the Himalayas, admiring mount Everest, but now they moved to ponder the vastness of the Saudi Arabian desert.
‘Well, it’s a half-life problem, master. The population will be halved in two planetary rotations and it will be halved again after the next two and so on,’ said the other. They had moved to look down on the magnificence of the nearly empty city of Moscow.
‘So, the hominids will always be here?’
‘Yes, master, but in very small numbers and in an aboriginal form. Their technology will collapse soon.’
‘We would have preferred an uninhabited planet, but this solution is adequate, I suppose.’
‘The planet will be empty for all practical purposes, master, and it’s hardly our fault if a random virus jumped from one species to another with drastic results. It’s not as if we encouraged the process,’ said the junior of the two, glowing slightly yellow.
‘Just lucky then,’ said the older entity wryly. ‘Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers and there’s really nothing left on Mars. We’ll take it. Arrange for the population to move across at the next conjunction. I expect you’ll get an enhancement for all your efforts.’
‘Thank you, master, you won’t regret this. Let me show you the Antarctic, I’m sure you’ll like the penguins, jolly little fellows, so comical.’
They drifted away.