Animals (Sample story from Other Gods)

This is a sample story from my horror collection, Other Gods, and once you read it, it will magically brainwash you into purchasing my book for only $2.99 from several popular eBook stores! Enjoy!

When Jolene invited me to her stupid costume party, my initial reaction was no fucking way. I wouldn’t know anyone there, and I’d sit there and drink a few beers until I was buzzed and field come-ons from dopey frat boys, then I’d go back to my dorm and sleep until noon.

But I talked to my mom and she pointed out that if I didn’t at least try to make friends at my new school, I never would. Thanks, mom.

So I messaged Jolene and told her I’d go, and she said she’d help me pick out my costume. Jolene was pretty much my only friend so far, and while we seemed to click, we weren’t terribly close. I thought it was sweet of her to offer, though.

We went to the costume store on Tuesday. We looked at a few costumes, mostly “slutty” variations on standard costumes. I’m not a fan of calling them slutty because I think that’s shitty, but you know what I’m talking about.

I ended up settling on a non-slutty version of Snow White.

“Oh, the fair maiden!” Jolene exclaimed.

“Oh hardy har-har,” I replied. But I liked the costume. What girl doesn’t want to be a princess? Yeah, it’s socialized into us and gender roles and yada yada, but sometimes you just want to do something comfortable.

Best of all, the cashier said Snow White was her favorite, and so she knocked $20 off. The whole costume was only $25, and I knew I could grab an apple from the lounge to complete the look before I headed to the party.

I skipped classes on Friday because I was too keyed up about the party. I’ve always had problems with anxiety. One time in middle school, I threw up because a teacher made eye contact with me right before a test. My mom called me her little bundle of nerves. Isn’t that sweet?

Jolene had put together the party with some frat on campus. I don’t know the letters. Omega something or other, I guess. They weren’t jerks, she assured me. They were actually an academic frat and not just a bunch of jocks. They didn’t have one of those reputations, according to Jolene.

So the party was at the Omega-whatever frat house. Oh boy. I thought super hard about backing out, I even typed a message to Jolene twice telling her I was feeling sick and wasn’t coming, but I deleted them before I sent them and tried to be brave instead.

When it started getting close to 8, I rolled down to the lounge to grab an apple, the final touch for my costume. But there weren’t any more. In fact, the lounge was empty, since they clear everything out on the weekend. I felt kind of dumb for forgetting, but I sucked it up and headed to the Omega-something house.

It was chilly, being close to Halloween, and I wished I had brought a jacket. Also, the walk was kind of quiet, which is weird for a Friday night on campus. I only saw a few people, and they were headed the opposite way. It made me even more nervous. Was I going to be one of the only people there? Oh God, what if I finally had the nerve to go to a college party and it sucked?

But I guess I didn’t have to worry about that, because I could see the lights on at the frat house and the dozens of cars on the lawn as I walked up. They had gone all-out with the Halloween decorations. Spider webs covered the fake Greek columns on the front facade. Black lights were visible in several rooms. Fake blood splattered the windows, and I was pretty sure I could hear “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus, which I only recognized because my best friend in high school briefly had a goth phase.

I could smell beer and sweat and dead leaves (someone had brought a pile inside and put it in the corner) as I walked in the front door. Instantly, as if out of thin air, Jolene sidled up next to me in her Elvira costume.

“Oh my God, you came. I thought you’d wimp out for sure. I’m so happy!” She didn’t need to add the last part since her grin took up 90% of her face.

She introduced me to a bunch of people I instantly forgot (I could barely hear their names anyway). Someone thrusted a red Dixie cup of beer into my hand. I took a sip and frowned. I didn’t like beer anyway, but this beer sucked.

Eventually, Jolene ditched me in a corner near the kitchen. I tried standing around looking cool for a while, but no one even so much as made eye contact with me. I sighed with my entire being. Why the hell did I even come to this?

I took one more sip of my beer, made a face, then strode into the kitchen and poured it down the sink.

“Whoa, waste of good beer,” said a voice behind me.

I jumped a little. I’m not sure why. I turned around and saw a guy with a pig mask sitting at the table.

“If that’s what you call good,” I said.

“Fair enough, the beer fucking sucks,” he said. His voice was muffled by the mask. He pulled it up a little to take a drink of his own beer. And I swear, just for a second, I thought I heard him snort. I almost found myself laughing, but I kept it together.

I sat at the table across from him, but he pulled the mask down and immediately walked out of the room. Well fuck you, too, I thought. I pulled out my phone to distract myself a little.

A few minutes later, a guy in a wolf mask stumbled through the kitchen holding a girl’s hand. He gave a little fake howl as they both disappeared out the back door. He made eye contact with me as he pulled the door shut. It really creeped me out.

“Are you going to sit in here and be a wallflower?”

Jolene plopped down in the chair next to me and I jumped a little. “Chill out, it’s just me,” she said. She was well on her way to being drunk.

“I dunno, I guess so. I’m bad at parties,” I said.

“It’s okay,” she said. “You just gotta loosen up.”

Another frat bro, this one in a gorilla mask, poked his head into the room. Animal masks are popular this year, I guess.

“Come on, Elvira,” he said. He pounded his chest for her and hooted a little. She held out a hand, which he took and whisked her out of the room.

I was alone again. I looked out the window to see if Wolfy and his lady friend were out in the backyard somewhere, but I couldn’t see anything. Probably off getting busy in the bushes.

Piggy walked back into the room. He looked at me and the mask shifted a little like he was smiling.

“Having a good time?” he asked.

I nodded, but I didn’t actually respond. Following closely behind Piggy were four guys in an alligator mask, a tiger mask, a bunny mask (with super creepy red eyes), and a bear mask. Coming up in the rear was none other than Wolfy. I guess he finished up and came back in around the front.

“Fuck, great fucking party,” Gator said.

“I need more beer,” Tiger said, nodding.

“I guess this is a theme thing you’re all doing?” I asked. They all looked at me simultaneously and I’ve never felt as cold as I did in that second. They stared for a few seconds and, during that short time, I nearly shut down completely. I swear I almost pissed myself.

Then they turned back to each other and started talking again like I wasn’t there at all. Fuck these assholes, I thought, and pulled my phone back out. I couldn’t help but listen to them, though.

“Did you see that chick riding the banister? Her skirt flew up and you could see everything,” Bear said.

Piggy snorted for real this time, with laughter.

“I’ve got my eye on this one girl, she’s in my psych class,” Bunny said. “I talked to her a little earlier, but I’m going to try again later on.”

“Good luck,” Tiger said. “I don’t think you’ve got a chance with her. I heard she’s a bitch anyway.”

Bunny glared at him with those horrible red eyes that looked so real it made the mask seem like just a face. Tiger stared back, but eventually broke his gaze and looked down at his beer cup.

These guys are fucking creeps, I thought, but I pretended to keep watching my phone.

Wolfy turned around from the sink too fast and spilled some beer on Gator’s jacket and, I swear on everything holy, the guy in the gator mask hissed. He reached out and pushed Wolfy.

Instead of cold, I started to feel hot. I could feel sweat pinpricking my face and I tried harder than ever to pretend to be absorbed in my phone.

Wolfy snarled. There was no mistaking it. He raised the hand that wasn’t holding a plastic cup and Piggy stepped between them. He said something, but all I heard was more snorting.

Wolfy lowered his hand and Bunny handed Gator a wet paper towel from the sink. Gator wiped at his jacket.

Suddenly, Piggy sat at the table across from me again. I struggled to decide whether I should put my phone down and acknowledge him or pretend to keep Facebooking away. In the end, I went for the former. I don’t know what would have happened if I’d gone the opposite way.

“Snow White,” he said.

I nodded and didn’t speak again.

“The fair maiden. Friend to all the beasts of the forest.” His mask moved and I could tell he was smiling. I had to fight like hell not to shudder.

“What brings you here?” he asked.

I hesitated and then, in an uncontrollable rush, I said, “Jolene invited me.”

He snorted another laugh. “Jolene. She’s a whore.”

My face turned red and I thought about telling him to shut the fuck up about my friend, but I was terrified.

Without a word, Wolfy, Gator, Bear, Tiger, and Bunny took the other seats at the table. I was surrounded.

“So, princess, why don’t you sing a song to your forest friends?” Piggy asked.

Bunny’s stare was making me feel like I was going to lose it. If those eyes move I’m going to lose my mind. I’m just going to start screaming and never stop.

“I… don’t like to,” I managed.

Wolfy grumbled and Piggy said, “Don’t like to what, princess?”

“Sing,” I said.

Bear pounded the table with his huge hand (paw?) and I flinched. They all laughed. But they weren’t laughing. They were snorting and growling and hissing. I wanted to burst into tears and run away.

I think they saw the water shimmering in my eyes, because Gator chuckled a little and said, “Crocodiles cry, too. But not us alligators.”

The others found this just hilarious, apparently, because that started a whole new chorus of bestial noises that made my blood jump up and down like a seismograph.

Where the hell is everyone else in this party? I thought. I looked over Wolfy’s shoulder and didn’t see a single soul. In fact, the light was off in the foyer, and I suddenly realized that the music had stopped long ago.

“Come upstairs with us,” Piggy said. “We’re gentle creatures.” He snorted a laugh, but the others didn’t join him this time.

And then I saw a form in the doorway from the foyer. I’m saved  I thought, but then I saw that it was the man in the gorilla mask.

“She’s ready,” he said.

Without another word, the rest of the animals stood up, their chairs scraping on the tile floor. My pulse was already jagged, and my blood pressure spiked with each squeak and whine from the chairs.

They filed out, one by one, and I was left panting. My phone was still in my hand, and I noticed I had gripped it so hard I cracked the screen. I quickly stuffed it in the little clutch I’d bought to match my costume and stood from the table.

The foyer was empty, and when I walked outside, most of the cars on the lawn were gone. I practically sprinted toward the path back to my dorm.

And then I stopped. Jolene. She’s ready. That’s what Gorilla had said. Oh fuck.

I ran back into the house without stopping to think, because if I stopped to think, I’d turn right back around and run all the way home.

I bolted up the stairs and heard the most horrible noises I could ever imagine. Smacking noises, grunting, and, worst of all – snorting.

I followed the sounds and tried the door. It was locked.

I turned my brain off and did something stupid. I took a step back and charged into the door as hard as I could. It stayed closed, but it buckled. Holy shit, that actually kind of worked.

I took another step back, not yet noticing the horrible pain in my shoulder, and charged again. The door burst open and I saw it all. I will never be able to unsee it.

They weren’t men in masks anymore. They were animals. Honest-to-God animals. They completely ignored my entrance and continued their primal work — chewing and chomping on Jolene’s limbs.

Bunny and Bear had a leg each, chewing on her thigh and calf. Gator and Gorilla each had a bicep. Wolfy was chewing on her raw, bloody neck. Tiger was nibbling at the soft parts of her face — the nose, the lips.

Piggy was sickeningly situated between Jolene’s legs and buried in her stomach. His snout was coated in blood and I saw him gulp down a chunk of… something. They all growled as they gnawed, but Piggy’s snorts were by far the loudest.

I shrieked like a girl in a slasher film. I wanted someone to come running, but no one did. Piggy looked up at me, though. Blood was smeared all over his face, like Jolene had just given birth to him.

He stood up and I shrieked again, but this time, I ran.

I flung myself down the stairs, but somehow kept my balance at the bottom. I darted through the front door, which I’d left open. No one had come by to close it.

I really did sprint this time. Thank God I didn’t pick a pair of huge heels.

I tried to force myself not to look over my shoulder, but I couldn’t help it

Piggy slowly walked toward me. He wasn’t an animal anymore, just a man in a mask. But that mask was still covered in my friend’s blood. He wasn’t hurrying, just… almost strolling.

I caught my breath and quickly tried to massage the stitch that had burned into my side. Piggy was still a good distance away when I started running again.

I nearly fell when the pointed toe of my shoe caught the hem of my dress and ripped it. Somehow, without breaking stride, I reached down and ripped the broken hem free and, streaming it behind me, let it go. I didn’t see it, but I just know — know — that Piggy picked it up and smelled it.

I fumbled the keycard for my dorm building out of my purse and held it against the sensor. At first, I was terrified that it wouldn’t work, but it did.

I didn’t wait for the elevator; I went straight for the stairs and staggered up six flights without stopping. I ran down the hallway without giving a single fuck who might see me. I pounded on the door to my room and, after a few seconds, my bleary-eyed roommate, Sam, opened it.

I shoved her out of the way, slammed the door, and twisted the lock behind me. “What the fuck?” she asked.

“Don’t open the door,” I said, and ran to the window. I looked out into the dim street and thought I saw a figure there, but before I could be sure, it disappeared.

I ran into my bedroom and locked that door, too. Sam knocked on my door a few times, but I ignored her and eventually she gave up.

Suddenly, I had a thought and pulled my phone out of my purse. I tried to dial campus security, but the touchscreen had stopped working when I cracked it.

Then I heard a tap at my window. My third-floor window. The blinds were closed, but as if in a trance, I walked over and pulled two slats apart with my fingers.

Piggy’s bloody snout greeted me, and I saw it take a big, long sniff.

I must have passed out, because I woke up in the floor with an enormous pain in my neck. It was daylight, and someone was knocking on my door again.

It took Sam assuring me that it was her four times before I’d open it. I told her everything, and I don’t think she believed me until our phones buzzed simultaneously. It was an alert from the campus police. Jolene was missing.

They looked for her the rest of the semester. Everyone who was at the party had to give a statement. I told them about the boys in the masks. I told them what I saw. They even found out who some of them were. Blake Sanders was in the gorilla mask, Richie McCallum was the bunny, they found the gator mask in Sonny Lorance’s car.

They never found out who Piggy was, though. No one believed me about him. No one really believed me about anything, I could tell. The boys all denied anything happened. No proof ever turned up. Neither did Jolene. They got suspended from a few teams, had some scholarships taken away. A slap on the wrist apiece.

“You’ve had a hard year, haven’t you?” My advisor asked, pulling me out of my thoughts.

It was just before Christmas break. I nodded and faked a smile. I had faked a lot of smiles that semester. This was the fakest of all. I handed her my transfer paperwork, all filled out.