Open Source Horror

Jackie slammed her head on the desk in frustration- the screen before her giving an indignant bleep and an all-too-familiar line of florescent green text scrolling out of the inky black darkness. Jim stepped in from the next room; a cup of steaming hot coffee in his hand.

“Still no luck?”

“This system is a piece of shit.”

“I feel that is an insult to the pieces of shit community. What’s wrong? Walk me through it.”

He sat down on the thick padded swivel chair beside her. There was a heavy thudding as rain pounded the tinted plex-glass window. A florescent orange sun was approaching the horizon and the faint blue tint from what little atmosphere there was began to fade to darkness.

“Well I was running a routine scan of the system to check for any weathering on the infrastructure so I boot it up, run a scan and it crashed for no reason. Then I booted it up again and there was this one phrase on the screen that wouldn’t go away and it wouldn’t respond to any input. So I shut the system down and waited while what scanners are still working started going haywire from the solar flares…”

She let out an exasperated sigh and let her rolling black locks fall from the bobby pin they had been constrained to and fell down her back. Jim gave that meagre relaxed smile that only a husband could pull off. She let out a deep breath and continued- the rain getting heavier all the time while some of the lights in the next room flickered.

“So once I’d calmed them down a bit I booted it up again and guess what? Same exact phrase, still not responding. So after a hell of a trek through the mainframe I find there a loose circuit board that needed welding back in place. Once I get back the phrase is gone and I think I’m in the clear. But as soon as I tried to start a scan it crashed again. Now, a good three hours later this same damn phrase is here and nothing else.”

Her exasperation was palpable as she buried her head in her hands.

“I don’t know Jim it’s like something doesn’t want me to scan the hull.”

Jims face transformed into a big goofy grin.

“What like one of your allliieeeenssss…? wooooooooooo!”

“Oh shut up!” Jackie giggled, playfully punching his arm like they were kids again.

No one knows what happened to them.

But they were never seen again- and no security tapes were ever found.

The Mouthless Dead

It was a bitter morning of the cruellest month and three unlucky sods lay rotting in their hole. The ground shook from artillery and their colleagues lay around them-long ago dead from fatigue, gas or high explosives. There was a hit nearby and a wet mud slurry poured down over everything- bits of bodies lay buzzing with flies in amongst the sludge that the wretches started picking out of their hair. They crawled with what vermin survived out here and now epitomized what humanity had done to itself, lice ridden dirty and slowly decaying from within. That was when the first one spoke- noting that despite the cold the mud was still fairly runny and wet. The other two nodded in silence.

Suddenly the shells from both sides stopped landing and there was a strange silence. The three had adapted to earth shaking artillery landing metres from them but the sound of silence made them look round in bewilderment. They listened for a while longer before hearing the faint sounds of screaming from the other side. There were then a number of gunshots that sounded rushed with lots of jams and metal pings as bullets hit metal and crunches as they hit wood. Similar sounds arrived from the friendlies a way behind the line. Then the ones much closer.

Eventually one of them, firearm at the reader- very slowly peeked out over the precipice. What he saw horrified him more than all the bombs, gas and rats in the world.

Mankind had piled high the dead- the dead had come back for their revenge.

Treasure Chest

In some dark and undiscovered places you’ll find them- wooden chests nestled in dirt and shadow. They are said to contain many amazing treasures by some- and many horrible nightmares by others. But which is right?

I sure don’t know- I didn’t even think this story was true until I went to clear out the attic. There I found underneath boxes of unused toys a smaller box. Its wood was worn and its lint patterns scratched. It looked old- but I didn’t remember owning it. Should I open it?

Yes of course I should- the nagging rational voice says to me- it might be something Dad put in his will. Maybe it’s valuable. I’m going to open it-

But why do I feel such unease? I read a book on success that says your body picks up on things your mind can’t detect- that going with your gut can do a whole lot that going with your head cannot. I want to trust my instincts. I’m not opening the box.

But what great treasures do these rare and buried chests contain? Perhaps they are of great value. Perhaps that’s why those said to have found such things and their families are never seen again- run off with the cash and start a new life. Maybe that’s why they go missing.

Well it’s one possibility.

Oh this is ridiculous I’m opening the-

The Galactic Responsibility

The hull shuddered as we hit the atmosphere- a rushing screeching wail as a thick blanket of oxygen rushed to make way for the broad flat underside of the cruiser. The general sat opposite me- strapped into his chair tighter than I was. He was brass- no question, as much a queasy landlubber as the rest of them. He looked like he was about to throw up unto the brown paper bag one of his advisors had packed him- it was pitiful to watch. As the ship reached an acceptable altitude the flight computers brought it to a full stop and the wailing and shuddering finally died away. The general breathed a sigh of relief as the straps came away. I and the rest of the bridge sprung up to continue their work.

The general lay there for several seconds gasping before finally lifting himself up and coming over to survey the planet. The radiation shields lifted to reveal the windows that overlooked our destination. We were roughly 70 kilometres above the centre of a giant flat plain apparently inside a giant ancient crater. Even from our lofty vantage point one could only barely see the lip of the crater from the horizon past the carpet of trees that covered everything. In amongst the plants were small scaly creatures leaping from branch to branch and flocks of flying mammalians picked them off. Somewhere far below us- unseen and unknown- a small ape-like creature was looking up at the faint stars with a fatal curiosity.  In the northern far distance there was a lone snow-capped mountain poking over- the constant sunlight causing it to glint like a fallen star.

The general saw all of this and sniffed- having regained his composure. “And we have confirmed Omega Sentience on this planet?” He asked at last.

“Yes sir,” One of the orderlies began. “All the parameters are in place for a potential civilisation on the planet within the next ten millennia. This planet also has ideal Solar and Geographic conditions for Post Scarcity in a mere 50 Standard Years of that. Our intel is concrete sir.”

“Well come on then let’s get it over with. Captain let us get started I want to get back.”

I stepped forward and opened the black metal cover to reveal a big red button. The general opened his case the other side of the room and found his button as well. The computer mainframe picked up our neural implants with a resounding click and the two buttons popped up. I slid my finger over the button gingerly as it scanned my biometrics while the general did the same. I turned and took one last look at the beautiful planet. The general yawned- we both saw countdowns in our personal HUD’s. As they ticked away the general pressed his button down firmly. I gulped and did the same.

The radiation shields slid down again as all life on the planet was extinguished- the last thing I saw before they closed fully were trees on the horizon turning to ash and the mountain caps melting and sinking into molten rock. The general looked at my contained grief with a look of bemusement.

“Feeling sentimental Captain?” He snorted with a shit eating grin.

I said nothing.

Scratching… Clicking… Biting.

Scratch… scratch… click…

Something just behind the thin plaster.

Scratch… scratch… click…

I lean my head up against it. There’s a faint whispering in amongst the gentle din. I struggle to make it out as the sound continues to drown it out. The last faint sun beams disappear over the horizon and the street lamp turns on, flickers for a moment, and then fizzles out. I reach out for the light switch while my head stays in place. My fingers stammer over the switch and push it.

Scratch… scratch… click…

Still darkness. It’s very dark now. It’s a new moon and without the lights of houses or streetlamps I am confronted with a deep primal fear of the close choking void. I scrunch up my face as I try to make out the whispering.

It’s stopped.

So has the scratching.

I lean away and stand in the blankness. There’s a soft breeze coming through the open window with the faint glow of the stars. I listen to the eerie silence and feel the hairs on my arms instinctively.

Then I hear a thud a few feet down the hall.

Jerking round to look into the even darker shade of nothingness that is the long hall I stand motionless- just listening.

The thud is gone and there is silence for a few moments. The breeze on the back of my neck as picked up strength. Then there is a creak of a floor board, then a long silence, and then another creak.

Almost like something heavy was trying to creep down the hall without being heard.

My heart pounded in my chest and there was another creak. Then there was a click and a strange nasal sigh down the hall. After a few more moments of silence I heard a glass smash upstairs.

So there were two things in the house then.

I heard another creak down the hall and then from above me the sound of metal scraping against the wallpaper of the upstairs landing and more frequent creaking. Then more clicking from down the hall as the creaking closed in.

There were a good twenty more seconds of dead silence-

The Dog

The dog ran down the empty street. It carried two sticks in its mouth as it searched for the owner that had thrown them. It wandered all the way around the block through one failing flickering pool of light after another. With every step the bell around its neck would ring. The ringing echoed out into the vast empty sky- it rattled down streets and gutters on the wind. It dissipated into the otherwise silent wider world. The dog still couldn’t find its owner and turned running back around the block the other direction. After a few more hours of this it gave up, curling up in the street and dropping the sticks from its mouth. It let out a quiet whimper that echoed behind the ringing into the urban wasteland. The dog waited for its owner to return.

After a while the dogs belly rumbled and it finally left its station in search of food. It wandered through street after street and found only empty cars and dark windows. It kept walking until it found a crashed car. Whatever meat was inside tasted funny but it would quell its hunger for now. It turned and tried to head back in the direction it had come just as the sun started to peer out over the horizon. As it walked back in the slowly growing light though it saw more details than before- the crumbling buildings and peeling paint; the rusty car chassis and small pools of oil underneath. When the dog reached the block from where he had come he could now see the formerly dark city centre. His big wet eyes gazed over the decaying metropolis.

And his sensitive nose caught the waft over a thousand corpses being baked in the sun.

The White Death

I crouched down into the icy branches with the sound of snow crushed beneath boots and angry German voices. I peered down on them from my tree and saw my new target practice. There were at least ten men, their sergeant striding ahead his carbine drawn ready to place a bullet through my skull if they could just spot me in amongst the trees. They were all after me specifically and I could tell from their faces they were unhappy about it. None of them were ever thrilled to fight in Russia anyway but the ones that came my way were the bottom of the pile- the ones sent to find and kill me. I had once been an ordinary defender of my Motherland just like they were of theirs. But I had proven an uncanny knack with this here long rifle. As the bodies started piling up and my legend spread through the Fascist ranks eventually I found myself here- the forests of the Siberian wilderness. I had been here for months by now and had nothing to eat but berries and squirrels for almost as long. But it was all worth it for the look of panic a single well placed bullet could lay on a hundred Nazis at once.

I slid my rifle into position on my most North westerly facing branch of choice and placed the sights over their sergeant. With the zoom I could make out the long ragged scar across the left side of his face. He had thinning greying hair and a nest of crows gathering around his eyes. The young men around him were just boys, barely old enough to understand what deep shit they were in. I exhaled slowly so my aim would steady and blew the old fucks face off.

Sudden terror gripped the rest and their carbines were pointed from tree to tree: landing on every tree but mine. I ejected the spent case and aimed again- picking off another poor sod and bringing the desperate aims of carbines to trees nearer and nearer mine. I aimed on another one- must have been about 16. His face made him look even younger though and I was suddenly gripped with how familiar his face looked to me. I fired and tore his skull open spraying blood and shards of bone all over his companions. They screamed out in terror and I fired again knocking one clean through the forehead and only minimal splatter as the bullet bounced off the back and lodged itself inside his mangled, but mostly covered, brain.

With every shot a little more off the Nazi war machine was sapped away and the Legend that knocked Nazi morale away piece by piece only grew.

And the White Death was content.