Thunder crashed as gray clouds churned and swirled just above the high turret where Anna Beth sat in a rocking chair observing. Lightning struck like a bull-whip a mile away illuminating her pale face. Anna Beth’s eyes grew wide as she attempted to decipher the landscape beyond her grand Victorian home. She stood, large leather-bound journal in her arms, and walked to one of the tall windows that surrounded her. Her lithe womanly frame moved deftly, her bustled dress weaving with the delicate sway of her hips. She used her ruffled sleeve to wipe away condensation as a hard, cold rain beat down upon the glass with deafening thumps. Another crash and quick bolt of lightning lit up the evergreens across the dirt road and, off in the distance, the odd limestone rock formations that taunted her. Each streak of lightning hit the rock with precision, like an arrow seeking a target. Anna Beth referred to the large book she clutched in her shaking hands. Twenty-four years. It had been twenty-four years since her father was murdered. The thing would be awake soon.
Anna Beth awoke to an overcast morning and an aching back as she lifted her head from the rigid wood of her rocking chair. She had fallen asleep keeping watch in the turret. She stood gingerly, stretching her limbs and moving her neck from side to side. She adjusted the pins holding her long chestnut brown curls in place. Still holding the leather-bound book, she descended the spiral staircase and went to her bedroom where she locked it in her father’s old metal safe. She didn’t bother changing out of yesterday’s dress, and instead, made her way downstairs for coffee.
“Good morning Miss.”
Nellie, Anna Beth’s house keeper, was in the kitchen rattling breakfast dishes. She had her back turned to Anna Beth but heard her black buttoned boots on the hardwood steps. Nellie had been taking care of Anna Beth’s family for decades. She had been caretaker when her father, George, was a child and when he inherited the house Nellie stayed on. Nellie was plump with gray hair that she kept in a neat bun. She donned a frilly white apron and a simple navy-blue dress which was always covered in flour.
“Good morning Ms. Nellie.”
“My goodness, Miss, you look a fright if you don’t mind my saying so. Did the storms keep you awake again last night?”
“I’m afraid so.”
Anna Beth breezed past Nellie and headed for the coffee sitting in a decanter on the counter. She had just reached for a mug when Nellie shooed her away.
“Now, now you go sit. I’ll get this. You look like the walking dead.”
“Thank you, Nellie.”
“You know,” Nellie talked into the cream and sugar as she mixed Anna Beth’s coffee. “You have been terribly afraid of thunder storms since, oh, I guess you were about sixteen.”
“Yes, they just make me very anxious. I suppose it’s the horrible noise and the way it rattles the house.”
This was an excuse that Anna Beth used every time Nellie brought up her fear of thunder storms. The truth was that in 1896, when Anna Beth was sixteen, she had found her father’s safe. It took her several weeks, but she finally figured the combination and that was when she found the family journal. It dated back generations, and generation after generation the oldest child of the family had been killed by the thing every twenty-four years.
It always began the same way; a week of storms. Thunder and lightning every night brewed in the inky black sky. The lightning glowed with a radiance that seemed impossible, otherworldly. Every bolt, without fail, struck the rock formations just one mile from their home. The family referred to them as “electric rocks”. They called to the tiny particles that swirled and vibrated in the air. The rocks acted like magnets to these wild, alien specs and when they roused them and gathered all of their energy, they awoke a terrible thing. It would rise from the recesses of the rocks to feed on the blood of her family, and then return to slumber until a new generation was born. It had last fed on her father. Anna Beth was an only child, it would come for her now.
“Well, I suppose. It may let up soon. Then, you can get some peace.”
“One more night I think.” Anna Beth gave a half smile into her coffee.
Anna Beth had spent the years she was aware of the thing preparing for the day it would return. She had never taken a husband for fear that she would die, and her future children would be motherless. For fear that her first born would suffer the same fate as the rest of the Eldridge family. She lived a solitary life. Her own mother, Naomi, passed when she was fourteen, leaving her and the family estate in the care of Nellie until she was seventeen. Instead of finding love, Anna Beth read the family journal discovering what she could about the thing. Some of her great-grandfathers had, apparently, tried to kill it with knives and arrows. Those were ineffective. One man attempted using a musket, but a plain bullet only wounded it according to the sons who witnessed the slaughter. Her grandfather, Edward, tried copper bullets. Her father’s written account claimed that the strike from those caused the thing’s flesh to burn and ooze a putrid green slime. Anna Beth developed a plan of her own.
In her room, a decadent octagonal shaped space draped in lush velvety blue and gold, she placed in her corset two copper letter openers she’d purchased from a small store in town. She also filled a six-shot revolver with copper bullets, which she had spent several years perfecting, and placed it in the waistband of her skirt. She then waited for the storms to begin.
As the sky darkened, Anna Beth could hear the rumble commence, like a growl deep in the throat of a hungry wolf. It would be a matter of time before the electricity surged from the wailing clouds and the thing rose from its slumber. She tucked her long curls into a tight chignon at the nape of her neck, buttoned a black jacket snug against her heaving chest, and raced down the wooden staircase unsure she would return.
“Miss Anna Beth, where are you going? It’s about to let loose a tidal wave out there!”
“I have to go, Nellie. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
“But Miss, now what could be so important in weather like this?”
“An urgent matter, Miss Nellie. I really must go.”
Anna Beth wouldn’t drag Nellie into her family trauma. She arranged for Nellie to take possession of the house should she not make it through the night.
Anna Beth rushed to her most faithful horse, a painted named Zephyr, and charged him into the evergreens that served as the barrier between her home and electric rocks. The rain began to whip at her face, stinging her eyes as she tried to peer into the darkness of the forest. The needles of the trees stuck through her jacket puncturing her arms and tore through the delicate flesh of her ghostly white hands as they clutched Zephyr’s reigns. There was little worn path; no one traveled to the rocks. The storm grew stronger with each passing minute. Lightning struck ever closer and with more wildness than it had on preceding nights. When Anna Beth arrived near the opening of the forest, she dismounted her horse and tied him to a broken tree out of sight. She walked the rest of the way to the rocks, her long skirt gathering mud and rainwater, increasingly heavy and difficult to maneuver.
A thick brilliant vein of lightning hit the rocks twenty feet ahead of Anna Beth. Deafening thunder rang in her ears. When it was gone, the rocks shimmered and glowed as if they were being lit internally by the beacon from a light house. From every crack, pinhole, or gaping wound in the rock brilliant white light poured and ignited the atmosphere. Anna Beth took a deep breath and approached the glowing rocks; her boots crunching on needles and twigs as she stepped. Gingerly, she placed a boot onto the glowing limestone and then another. The air was silent. The dark menacing clouds roiled above her, but the storm ceased. She moved nimbly down the rock formation and into a small crevice that lead into a dark desolate cave. Her pupils dilated as she tried to make out a movement inside.
It lurched from the blackness. A long granite tentacle, smooth and shiny, with pink suction cups on the underside. The limb thrashed in the air reaching, feeling for something to grasp. Then, came another. The same as the first. It slithered next to Anna Beth’s feet and she recognized a large raised scar on its thick body. Perhaps, a memory from her grandfather’s self-defense. Four more tentacles followed, swinging and wiggling in the air, performing a lethal ballet as the thing rose from the dead. When they finished they gripped the walls of the cavern and tensed, pulling the body of the thing from the darkness.
Anna Beth ran for cover behind the large rocks and peered out to see the monster that intended to devour her. It dragged itself from the darkness into the light of the rocks revealing its wretched form. Six tentacles writhed around a massive body comprised of a single bloodshot purple eye. Beneath the eye were pincers on short skinny arms that fed a mouth filled with yellowed fangs as sharp as razor wire. The thing blinked and gnashed its teeth, extended its claws clasping and unclasping. Anna Beth gasped and shook with horror at the sight of it releasing a soft whimper into the silent air. The thing heard her.
Its eye shifted in Anna Beth’s direction, and she quickly removed her letter openers from her corset. She watched as gray tentacles creeped over the limestone toward where she stood. They reached her and slowly touched the hem of her dress. Then her boot, her ankle. When she could bare the examination no longer, Anna Beth struck, digging the blades of the copper knives into the thing’s wicked arms with unfettered ferocity. Thick green ooze spurted and bubbled from the wounds, spraying Anna Beth with gruesome globs of puss. The thing wailed and drew back its injured limbs but charged with its remaining healthy ones. It nipped and gnawed at her, attempting to remove her arm or leg; rob her of her ability to fight. Anna Beth stabbed and slashed at the tentacles releasing streams of the green goo. It covered her black boots as she ran and dodged the monster. It drenched her coat as she rolled across the wet shiny rocks to avoid being snatched or carved.
Soon, she had punctured nearly all of them. She was bruised, and blood dripped from her cheek down her long slender neck. Two holes she had previously missed, above the thing’s jaws, contracted as it sniffed at her blood. Thick saliva dripped from its mouth in hunger. It limped and lumbered for her, aching for the meal it had waited twenty-four years to consume. Anna Beth ran, jumping and dodging the predator, as she pulled the revolver from her waistband. She stood only a few feet away from the rabid, hungry jaws of the thing and she fired into its starving expectant mouth. Once, twice, until the chambers were empty. Each bullet that made contact creating a crater of light in the heart of the thing. A loud eruption began in the belly of the beast, like a volcano preparing for explosion. The monster lit like fireworks and expelled, like a geyser, green goo soaking Anna Beth in its extermination. The thing wilted and died, turning to dust, as the rain resumed and washed its carcass away with the mud.
The lights at electric rocks flickered and died. Anna Beth looked through the dissipating rain into the sky where the clouds were beginning to separate. There, in the blackness, twinkled an odd green sphere unlike anything she had ever witnessed in the heavens. She swallowed hard and blinked through the dirt, the sweat, and the rain as it wavered and disappeared.
#HumpdayHorror #CentralPA #AltoonaPA #ElectricRocks #KiraMcKinney
Copyright Kira McKinney
Welcome to my blog. Sit back and enjoy a short story, a poem, or some flash fiction--whatever I have recently cooked up. I will post a new piece as often as possible. Check back once a week to see what's new.