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"A True Night Story" by Andy Gehlsen

I. Prologue/Epilogue

The image of a screaming head,

its mouth stretching,

crackling like a splitting vine,

the strands and follicles of flesh,

hair, and expression prying vastly

pulling over the top of the cranium

like a cozy shirt..

The song of terror, an enigmatic soliloquy, known only to a monster. A music box upon the mantle in a tower…

II. A True Night Story

Ego, she hopes. Something she knows she must hide, and hide from. Seems like everything these days. Give me another chance. Promise I won’t choose this again. Her arm points at the wall, southeast. An old rooster weathervane. Her extended arm, covered by a sheet. Concealed as the hulking thing enters.

It doesn’t see her limb. She knows this as best as she can know anything in this moment, in this room. A result of other moments, other rooms. Down the dim lit limb of the hall. Threads off into other rooms, going on forever. Veins of some immortal enlightened body. Seems like everyone these days.

A history she can remember as intricately as she can, given all there is—said history, anxiety, etcetera.

Last time, nothing happened when it came. We’ll see, she thinks, hopes, prays, grieves.

That hunched back full of crawling wounds bleeding through the sheet. She hates this thing. That upward bumpy slope. She has seen rickety carriages climb this topography, the squeaking and creaking keeping her up all night. The bumpy road leads into a horse-shaped head. Red splotches where the eyes are, dark gray in the lightless room.

Please keep going, she thinks to herself, like a joke she tells. Like the farce children know the world is before they are stolen. People become colonized hunks of land eventually. They are exhausted into compliance. A dance they’d never find their way out of. Being young is the slow dilapidated acknowledgment that other rituals always seem to tie back around into this grotesque one. She’d go until the truth glinted off the theatrical stage covering up Nature. This is the cover-up the confounded shriek about at the present era’s trendy altars.

She’d go until everything she knew would be forgotten.

That recognition of the moment, of the time. It emerges like a leech’s sucker drawing blood. Horror is the story collapsing in on itself. The process of shriveling, physically, spiritually, and what is revealed would be what is. The narrative is that youth inevitably starves into a tragic ending.

Please don’t turn. Please don’t groan. A question mark would result in her presence, the answer she does not want to become. The knowledge would become Now eventually. She would know the thing she feared next

—that moment the prior one leans into.

The hulking thing sinks, groans downward like a crippling staircase. A

scrunching accordion squeeze box.

This is its music. The creature is an undiscovered hull, a mountain breaking and falling. It is a thing warting and snaking off of its previous thing. The era following the destroyed Before. The result of Now. It leans into her body, removes the pillow covering her arm.

She watches its eyes through the sheet, through the gray. Based on a true story, she knows it cannot see her arm. She feels like that very source of fodder she and her friends once saw the world as. She feels her eyes inside of it. She believes for a moment she is seen, yet the fog of Unseen hovers about the inside of her head like vague hope, like its own falsehood’s tiny, unknown segment. So as according to her narrative, what is the probability..?


Its mouth un-crinkles, creak-slides open, like a body falling down stairs.

As smoothly as a rug,

the bulk of the mouth is a sight to behold:

a whorl of fungal shadow, fermentation gusting out. A death wind. It hangs open like the bottom of a trunk. Unhinged, dangling in the dark, swaying like a porch swing. A foul, penduluming moan of satisfaction.

The squelching rawness odorizes the room, the pith of its mouth, esophageal chamber, worldly innards, massages the space, suckles upon the broken, gnashing arm.

And into permanent ruin.

Iron and rot stain the walls, consumption fills the gullet of this once-sacred room. But sacred is synonymous with starved in some cultures, and often meets the definition at some point following more civil and undefiled words. They happen eventually. Stringing off and meeting down the line with this hulking thing.

Its innards uncoil like a faltering cumulonimbus tower through the open mouth, flesh splaying like wings to aid the birth. As comfortable as a shy youth in a trusted friend’s basement.

She thinks about her people, horror movies, and cheap beer.

Every century is another dime.

Payment and collection.

A meat hook descends like a prize-fight microphone. It curves, swings, and fishes into the puss-warted terrain of the hulking thing’s back.

It rises, a seer over all, returning to its panopticon tower.

The hulking thing licks its many flittering, inter-lapping chops. Unholy mouths devouring their miniature meals. A recent rough-hewed cold sore spittles its oppressive bacteria. A newborn infection that inspires the name of a planet.

Based on a true story: From its presiding position, the hulking thing awaits the next rueful dreamer.

III. Epilogue

And as adrift as an outsider through town,

yet so intricately apart,

an existential pulsation,

a piercing song soars the scape like an ethereal limb reaching,

calling to every true story before and after…

The depraver holds its trembling, frightened guts. Attempts to reach for the music box upon the mantle. Its insides heave out of the orifices. Its unkemptness, splayed in a collage along its living room. It will not make its tower shift…

Andy studied writing and film in college while working at a library. He also helped develop scripts and reviews for the college radio station. He has since worked jobs at all hours. He has been published in Dark Entries Journal, State of Matter, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Hungry Shadows Press, and has work forthcoming in Anterior Skies Anthology, Vol. 1. Writing has been an invaluable path, helping bring ruin to the most vile of monster-dom: our lord depraver, Status Quo. He is grateful for Godspeed You! Black Emperor, goofy friends, and horror movies. He currently works at a library in Iowa.


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