Fragmented (A Short Horror Story)

©Des M. Astor

There it was again.

My name, chanted over and over, forcing me to freeze and let out a breath. Turning slowly to look over my shoulder, I spotted a distant light flashing, rather dizzily, several times in rapid succession. A shudder ran through my body as my stomach clenched. My hand flew to my abdomen, nails digging into my flesh as I stumbled forward, no longer in control of my body. 

No… please… not again! NOT NOW! 

A metallic taste bled from the back of my throat to the tip of my tongue. The liquid pooling in the bottom of my mouth spilled out when my jaws parted. It dripped out, mixed with my saliva, down my chin. I twitched my fingers, trying to resist the compulsion. 

Reaching up and wiping my chin of the warm crimson, I hissed in frustration as loud cracking rang into the air. 

No matter what I did, I couldn’t stop this. 

Though the signals from my brain screamed at my legs, they moved without any purpose other than to go toward the damned chanting. 

Crack… crack… crack…

They weren’t supposed to bend that way. 

My leg rotated inward a little bit too far, causing a resounding snapping noise to ring out through the air. Screaming joined the blood that was spilling from my lips as my limbs bent in every direction but where they were supposed to. I crawled forward on my elbows and knees, reaching the floor of blades. 

This crab-walking motion, entirely against my will by the way, took me across knives jutting out from the ground of this hellscape. 

Slice… slice… slice…

Lacerations formed all over my flesh as warm liquid escaped my wounds and caressed my skin. This process always painted me red, and every inch of my body felt it. More cracking, and now my fingers were jutting out in every direction as I approached the flashing in the distance. 

The chanting grew louder and more excited, ringing in my head like a mouse squealing in agony through a nearly-empty forest while being consumed by a serpent. Such an end would be merciful compared to this. 

Thank the gods that I was moving forward this time, as my neck wouldn’t be made to snap to reverse my head in a grisly fashion. 

I got there eventually. 

Everything snapped into place at the same time, and a shiver ran down my spine. I was ‘normal’ again, but they sure as hell weren’t.

Standing before me were two humanoids, but in the place of their eyes was throbbing flesh with pulsations like that of a live heart. From it poured oil-colored liquid with the consistency of blood. 

Maybe that’s what it was in some twisted, odd fashion. 

Aside from that, there were no facial features.

My eyes rested upon their hands, which had ivory claws jutting out of their fingers. When they reached out toward me as my body forced itself through this window, closer to them, I felt visceral fear rip through my body. 

No… NO NO NO!

My hands shot out, plunging into the flesh where their eyes should be. A sickening squelching noise rang through the air, followed by ear-splitting murderous screaming. I had no idea where it was coming from, but I wanted it to stop. 

A deranged hiss escaped me as I sliced into these monsters’ flesh even more; I just wanted to get them away from me. 

Their wrists were split open effortlessly with my nails, and within moments they were laying there, motionless on the ground. The flicker of candle light caught my attention, and I blinked back tears. 

I had to get out of here in case others of those monsters came back. 

I looked back to the window I came through, seeing just a blur now. Tears poured down my cheeks, and my bottom lip was stained with crimson. Standing here would be of no help, so I rushed out from the room of fiends with no purpose other than to get away. 

Panic bathed me as if I were caught in an uncontrolled and violent thunderstorm with no shelter to hide in. My chest heaved as I rushed through this unfamiliar house, the bright colors of the wallpaper mocking me in this deep dark. The carpet might as well have been full of nails as I ran down the halls. The pictures on the wall were of people without eyes, staring in a judgemental fashion as I tried to escape.

Eventually I came upon a room with smooth black countertops, a fridge, and various appliances. I looked about wildly before finding a phone, snatching it up and calling the emergency number. My breath caught in my throat as the operator answered. 

“Hello, 911. What is your emergency?”

I couldn’t say a thing. My voice was missing, and I just stood there frozen, unable to handle what I’d witnessed or gone through once more. The operator kept trying to prompt the words from me, but they were met with silence. Eventually, the phone fell from my hand, clattering to the ground. 

Seconds could have been minutes. Minutes could have been hours. Time was an anomaly to me, but eventually the wail of sirens met my ears, and I slumped my shoulders. 

So they’d sent the authorities. 

Chaos erupted as people rushed into the house. I hurriedly explained to the police, as they arrived, what had happened, as odd as my story sounded. The woman before me, standing and writing on a notepad, nodded her head every so often to my words. 

Someone else was talking behind me, I think, but I drowned them out. Her attention was entirely on me, as odd as that far-away look to her eyes was. She responded to every statement I said with the motion of her head or a wave of her hand. 

Still, I felt my stomach clench at the fact that it almost seemed like she was looking through me. “We’re taking this very seriously, that much I can promise. The bodies found in the bathroom were mutilated beyond recognition,” the woman muttered, a shiver rushing down her spine. I nodded in agreement. 

From there, I turned and left the unknown house. 

Nothing more, and they let me leave. No one moved to stop me as I stepped into the fading night, the stars twinkling above. 

The buzz of cicadas hit my ears as my bare feet hit the cold concrete, though that didn’t seem to bother me. A freezing wind lashed against my flesh, and I could feel everything, but it had no effect. The shivers that greeted my spine were from fear, not the weather.

The sun began to peek from the horizon, causing me to narrow my eyes. Letting out a sigh, I kept wandering down the road, telling myself that everything would go back to normal now. 

My mind wasn’t telling me how many times this had happened. 

Probably just this once, to be honest. This all was likely just a nightmare, as a matter of fact. 

It had to be. 

My attention was taken by frantic barking off to my left side. My head snapped to the noise, and my eyes fixed upon the canine. Saliva poured from the maw of a dog with flowing black and white fur, eyes wide and lips peeled back to show glistening teeth. Their ears were perked, and they were rushing right at me. 

I braced myself, too tense to do anything other than watch as they skidded to a stop before me. Then, they proceeded to give several more yelping-barks, their tail tucked between their legs. I gulped, wetting my lips with my tongue before speaking in a whisper. 

“Hi there buddy,” I tried, speaking to the dog in a soft tone. Upon hearing my voice, a low growling emitted from their chest. “I’m not here to hurt you. Where is your owner?” The fur on the back of the dog’s neck rose alarmingly, and I pivoted to look over my shoulder. Was something behind me freaking the poor animal out?

Seeing nothing, I decided that perhaps I was intruding upon their territory. But I was here on the sidewalk, so surely that couldn’t be the case? Was the dog this aggressive to everyone that happened to pass by? Where were their owners?

I tried a different approach–a dangerous one, but I was out of options, and I didn’t want to completely turn my back to this angry hound. After studying them for a while, I let out a breath and realized this was a freaked-out collie. 

Alright, I could work with this, right?

I held out my hand, ignoring the silky red substance that dripped down my arm and to my fingers. The liquid was warm, and I realized it must be the result of my little nightmarish adventure. 

Maybe I’d woken up from it a while ago, I had no idea. 

Anyway, the dog cautiously sniffed at my hand and let out a chaotic whimper, their eyes widening even wider. Another frantic yelp-bark emitted from the pit of their throat, but they didn’t attack me, at least. The dog’s panic could almost be tasted, something that didn’t please me one bit. 

“It’s alright,” I said, my voice as silken as the blood that ran down my arm. “I promise I won’t hurt you. Please, I don’t know how to convince you. I have no food on me. Really. I just…was passing right on by. Are you a good pup? Huh?” 

The dog stared at me, confused, slowly allowing the tail to untuck itself from their legs. Then, they cocked their head, running their tongue over their muzzle and finally bumping my hand with their nose. I gently ran my hand through their fur, staining some parts a tad bit crimson. The dog didn’t seem to mind this, and after a moment, relaxed. 

This went on for several minutes, or was it hours? Regardless, the door to the small house that the dog had come from swung open, and a silhouette was standing there. “Lacy!” a masculine voice called out. 

The dog perked up, and with one last look to me, bounded on over toward the darkened house. I heard their owner mutter, “Did you catch a rabbit again or something? Is that why you went ballistic and have so much blood in your fur?”

“Sorry sir!” I called out. “Your dog charged me, but it worked out in the end. I calmed her down. Though you should probably keep an eye on her a bit more, that was frightening.” 

The man in the doorway, with features I couldn’t discern, looked toward my direction and shrugged dismissively. I let out a sigh, cursing irresponsible dog owners before moving on, wandering right along down the street. 

Several moments later, the sun was low on the horizon, but it only took a few minutes to peak above me, following that. Time was meaningless right now, to me, apparently. What had I been doing?

Dazily, I looked forward, my head tilting as I gazed about. Tall, slick buildings loomed over me in an intimidating manner, the sun’s reflection from them heating the pavement I walked on. People milled around in a blur, ignoring me but being polite enough not to give a bump, in the very least. 

They went about their lives, provoking me to wonder whether or not I should be doing the same. 

As a matter of fact, there was no question that I was awake now and trying to go about my own day, so what exactly was I doing? 

I pondered this matter, deciding to head to a restaurant’s bathroom and clean myself off from all of this. I hadn’t had a chance to yet, so this would be a good opportunity.

No one acknowledged me as I walked into the place, the smell of roasting meat hitting my nose and causing me to salivate. There would be time to get a nice warm meal later, I was sure. 

But I had priorities. 

I walked by a table, the comment of a woman ordering food catching my ear. 

“Is the air conditioner cranked up, today, sir? Seems odd, it’s freezing out today!” she muttered, and I had to agree. Though, for some reason, the cold did little to me, I could tell it was a bit excessive. 

The waiter shook his head, his brow furrowing and his eyes narrowing just slightly. “No ma’am. In fact, we have the heat cranked up a bit more than usual today, since it’s so cold outside. I will go make a check on the windows–maybe that’s the source of the odd breeze.”

The patron gave a nod, and I moved on, ignoring the bodies milling about and trying not to be run over by the staff delivering food. They shuffled along the navy blue carpet, no doubt extremely busy today. I really couldn’t blame them for almost slamming into me a few times, but I did provide a few annoyed comments under my breath, just for my benefit. 

Eventually I arrived at the bathroom, sighing in relief as I walked in. The problem was, when I looked in the mirrors, the only thing I could see was jet-black nothingness. Blinking several times, I rubbed my eyes and looked again, then let myself stare forward into the darkness once more. 

That was something I couldn’t explain, but I turned the water on, rubbing it on my flesh and washing off the blood from my little expedition. 

Perhaps the mirrors were broken, or something. 

The lights flickered above me, and I grumbled, “Faulty electricity, too? First the mirrors, now this. I don’t need this right now.” 

After a night like that, could people really blame me?

A woman entered the bathroom, freezing as soon as she stared at the sink I was washing myself with. Her companion pushed past her, complaining, “I need to take a piss, Bev.” The friend then stared to the sink as well, furrowing her brow. 

“Hey there,” I said. “Do you folks see the mirror issue too? The lights are also being a bit finicky. I have no idea what’s causing it. Might be a good idea to bring up to management.”

Weirdly, the last part of what I said was echoed entirely by the first woman as I said it, which caused a pang of annoyance to rush through me. The second woman gave a nod, then shivered. “That’s pretty creepy,” she admitted, gesturing toward my direction.

“Agreed,” I muttered, once again echoed by the first woman. Then, I let out a sigh. “Are you going to repeat everything I say? That’s getting a little bit eerie, which isn’t helping the whole offputting nature of this situation.”

Bev, the first woman, was now staring in my direction, her eyes darting about. Rather than answer my question, she muttered, “I’m going to go wash up at home, Stacy. I’m getting bad vibes here.” 

Stacy rolled her eyes and just began to charge toward me, much to my dismay. I gasped and leaped back, not expecting such a gesture. Then, she shut off the water, peering into the sink. “Why… why is there blood in here?!”

“I was washing it off of my arms,” I told her, my voice growing more agitated by the second. They were starting to be incredibly rude, and were ignoring half of what I was saying. “Look, you can’t just start stomping toward someone else like that. I’ve had a long night, and you freaked me the hell out. Can you at least say sorry?”

Annoyingly, Bev repeated my last question, causing me to slam my foot upon the ground. Coincidentally, the lights began to flicker even more, causing me to snarl out in frustration. 

The electrical issues of this damn restaurant were the last thing I wanted to deal with right now. 

Stacy replied, “Sorry for what? Turning off the running water? Why does it look like there’s so much blood in here, is there some sort of cruel joke going on? Halloween is over, this isn’t funny.”

“I just explained that,” I said, pinching the bridge of my nose and exhaling sharply. Bev, as if on cue, repeated that, causing me to clench my fist and dig my nails into the palm of my hand. The pooling blood from that action wasn’t going to be overly helpful in this case, but I didn’t care. 

Stacy just stared at her companion and rubbed the back of her neck. “No you didn’t…” she muttered. “Alright, I can hold it. Let’s just get out of here.”

“Can you at least bring up the issues to management? I’m sort of busy here, and trying to clean myself off of this mess is impossible with the flickering lights and black mirrors,” I said, my voice tinged in desperation. At this point, they entirely ignored me and exited the bathroom, causing me to twitch an eye. 

Alone once more, I stared into the void of the mirror, trying to discern something, anything. The flickering of the lights just grew more frantic, but I was fixated on trying to figure out this mirror problem. “They saw it too, right? Or is there something wrong with my eyes?” I asked aloud. 

No surprise, but my question was met with silence. 

Or, so I thought. Something nagged and twisted in the back of my mind, a whisper, a name. 

It was my name. 

My head twisted about, searching for the sound, trying to pinpoint it, as the lights flickered even more frantically. Then, the darkness from the mirrors slowly began to fade. 

I gasped, delighted that I finally was going to get somewhere with this. Those women were obnoxious and no help, but that didn’t mean my quest to clean myself off would be met in vain. I drew my tongue over my lips as I stared at the glass in front of me, willing it to stop with whatever was causing this anomaly. 

The blackness began to fade into the center, tendrils of shadow reaching to keep hold of the sides, only to be ripped off and dragged to the core. Soon, the mirror was entirely clear, and I was staring into it with initial delight. 

That faded as I realized my reflection was entirely blurred. I reached up and rubbed my eyes, cursing as more blood flowed down my arms. Some of it got into my eyes, delaying this entire process even further. 

I turned the water on again, hoping those women wouldn’t come back and antagonize once more. The water was stained red as I cleaned myself again, running my fingers over the lacerations dotting my flesh. Those shards a while ago must have cut me deeper than I thought. That was supposed to be a nightmare, though. Maybe something happened before I fell asleep, and I dreamed about it, but was left with the wounds. 

My eyes fixated upon the mirror again, and I gasped out, delighted to see my reflection finally coming into focus. Inwardly, I cheered, feeling a sense of victory. All of the lights except for the one above me went out, but I didn’t care. At least one worked, and I could figure out the extent of the damage. 

That’s when I realized that everything was wrong. 

Staring back at me was a gaze that wasn’t mine. 

My reflection showed me someone else. Where my eyes should be were sockets, boring into me with hellish intensity despite nothing being there. My lips were twisted into a scowl, but the flesh on its sides were cut all the way up to my jawline, as if someone had ripped through the skin on my cheeks. My face was split open in several areas, actively dripping out warm, crimson liquid, something that I had missed before. 

I’d been focused on my arms–which the mirror told me were still gushing out blood, spattering into the sink and onto the floor. I was wearing a tattered dress, one that was ripped in several places and might as well be rags. It was meant to be white, but had patches of red from the amount of blood I was shedding. 

My eyes once more fell upon my face, and I reached up, drawing a sharp-nailed finger over one of the cuts, feeling my pounding heart clench. 

My reflection couldn’t be me–could it? 

I opened my mouth, my lungs disobeying me as I began to cough up gobs of thick dark liquid, spitting it into the sink. My stomach wrenched as if it was being torn right from my abdomen. 

This went on for several minutes as a garbled noise began to come into focus. 

Red tears poured from my socketless eyes as my entire body shuddered, and I let out a strangled cry. 

My name was being called again, over and over. The chant of a ritual, and I knew what happened next. This wasn’t a nightmare. This was my reality. 

Bloody Mary… Bloody Mary… Bloody Mary….

My reflection faded as my skin began to suck into itself. The last thing I saw before the blackness took the mirror again was a more skeletal me, as if my body had cannibalized the muscle. Then, the tendrils lashed out, wrapping around my neck, my arms, and my legs. 

“NO! LEAVE ME ALONE!” I shrieked, begging something that wouldn’t listen. “I’M NOT DEAD! I CAN’T BE!”

The tendrils tugged even harder, as if with a vengeance. The agonizing chanting set fire to my bones as I was dragged into the mirror, shards of glass ripping into my skin once more. 

“I CAN’T BE BLOODY MARY!”

My voice was swallowed by the void, and I was dragged to the demons once more. 

*****

HEADLINE OF THE MONTH: Serial Killer “Bloody Mary” Still at Large

In a hellish scene, several young girls have been found with their eyes ripped out, and their wrists split open. Oddly, the only evidence left behind, aside from the victims, was the blood of a victorian woman who died centuries ago. How this blood was obtained, and how it was kept in such good condition, is unknown.


Author’s Note: Greetings! This is a story I submitted for a horror contest, however it did not end up moving forward. Which is just fine! I understand entirely. However, I wanted to make my writing free to read here in case people were interested in how I write horror. I have other short horror stories, like I don’t like open doors in the dark and The User if you’re interested in that work. They are considerably shorter than this one. Enjoy!

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