“I think we should be heading back to the convention centre now Mr Fuzzles, it’s getting dark, the streets aren’t safe.” Sparkles said in her sweet high pitch Saturday morning cartoon character voice.
“Ok sparkles, let’s walk back together, it’s not too far and it’s a shaping up to be a beautiful night.” He smiled with his voice and cocked his arm for her to loop her hoof in the crook of it.
The sun was on it’s last legs now. Only a tinge of orange left in the dark blue sky drawn over the winter wonderland. Bovarian style houses and storefronts dusted with pure white snow. The cars passing petering out as everyone sought shelter in their homes or strip clubs. The wind was picking up and it was bone bitingly cold.
“Freaks!” “Stay in the circus!” A guy in a trucker cap said as he sped past in a red pickup.
“Do you think they were talking to us?” Sparkles said coyly.
“No, I don’t think so” Mr Fuzzles said as he shrugged cartoonishly. “Let’s head back to the convention centre before it gets too dark.” He said tugging at her white hoof. Out of nowhere a big gulp cup tossed from a passing car hit him in the stomach spreading an almost luminous blue slush over the white part of his costume.
Mr Fuzzles padded the growing blue stain on his purple costume and looked up at the car speeding away and said “Eh hey sorry, you spilt your drink, I guess”.
“Come on Mr Fuzzles we’ll get you cleaned up back at the centre” Sparkle said tugging at his fuzzy purple arm.
“Ok” He said.
They started walking back. A little bounce in their step as they retraced their route which was pretty much a straight line from the centre along the main road out of town. The main high street was lined with touristy shops and diners. They hadn’t strayed too far so before they knew it they were in front of the familiar centre again. Oddly though it seemed a lot quieter and there didn’t seem to be that many lights on.
Mr Fuzzles tried the front entrance of the convention hall tugging at it, it rattled but wouldn’t open. “That’s weird” He said.
“Is it locked?”
“What’s that smell?” Sparkles said swiping the air theatrically.
Mr Fuzzles cupped his hands and tried to look through the glass doors but couldn’t see much, it was dark inside.
“What can you see?” Sparkles brushing up against him.
“Erm, everyone’s lying down I think?” He said blushing.
“They all went to sleep on the floor?” She rose up in a cartoony shocked gesture.
“I dunno”. He shrugged.
“Well wake them up, I’m not sleeping out here, it’s too cold for a unicorn.” She said shaking Fuzzles shoulders.
“Hey let us in! Wake up!” The giant purple cat said as he batted the glass door with his soft paw. He pressed up against the door and started to shake it to see if he could force it open, straining. It started to give way with some effort and he breathed a sigh of relief wiping his furry brow. He hadn’t budged the door much, it was still really dark inside and there was no movement. The space in the door was maybe a couple of inches wide and that smell was even stronger leaking out.
He looked over at Sparkles and she seemed to be upset, her hooves up on her hips.
“Well?” She said.
He went back to the door, and started to push it more “It’s stuck on something” He strained. With great effort, huffing and puffing and probably a gallon of sweat soaking into his costume. He opened up a gap large enough for them to squeeze through
He took a step back to pant and put his paws on his hips waiting for a round of applause or a kiss or something. Turning triumphantly to Sparkles who was looking inside cautiously.
“Well?” She said standing over him.
“Uhh?” He said catching his breathe bent over with his hands on his knees.
“Are you going in?” She said in her little voice.
“I dunno Sparkles, it’s kind of dark, what if I fall, I don’t know where the light switches are, I might get lost. I think we should just go.” Sparkles was hoofing around in her little sparkly purse as Fuzzles rambled to himself.
“Here” She said as she hoofed him a small pen torch. “I’m not sleeping in my car in this weather.”
“Err thanks.” Fuzzles said.
“Always be prepared” She said as she posed cockily.
“Errr” He said stalling.
“So, go on, I’ll be right behind you, you’ll be my shining kitty in furry armor” She said getting a little excited. “If we stay out here we’ll freeze to death for sure.”
“O-k” He said confidently, his chest swelling with bravado.
He clicked the torch on and started probing the dank heavy dark of the convention centre.
The small torch poked at the darkness, showing them little more than a peepshow of nothing much but an empty room with eggshell white walls.
“Lets go, I’m cold” Sparkles whined and bounced up and down behind the back of her Kitty in shining armour.
“Ok” He swallowed loudly as he started to push through the small gap in the door of the convention centre.
He forced his way through, popping out on the other side a slight ripping noise cutting the silence of the musty room.
“Oh crap” Mr Fuzzles said.
“What is it?” Sparkles said as she followed gracefully behind popping through the door with a practiced wiggle.
“I ripped my costume” Fuzzles said as he looked down the torch clutched in his fuzzy mitt. He probed the cut with the light and tutted. “I need to get to the sewing kit in my room” He said dejected.
“Err Mr Fuzzles?”
“Yeah, what is it?”
“Are you touching me right now?”
“Oh ok, erm…”
The bell on the door of the army navy store rang cheerily as the jolly fat frenchman entered. Wafting his black leather jacket and scrunching up his neck fat for some kind of warmth.
“Oh mon dieu, it is cold out there.” He said as he shut the door behind him.
“Oh excuse moi madamoiselles?” He said with a confused tone in his voice as a group of women bustled passed him towards the exit lead by a fat girl with green hair. A large woman with blonde hair carrying a fat boy in sweatpants out of the door by the scruff of his neck followed them out.
When they were gone and the door shut behind them again, he squinted and shook his head wondering if he imagined the whole thing. He shook his head again and decided to forget it and he walked over to the counter of the store.
“Ah bonjour monsieur, common ca va?” He said in a friendly jovial tone.
The man behind the desk shuffled the magazine and farted and continued to pretend the store was empty.
“Ok ‘down to business’ as they say.” He patted the desk and turned away from it to dig around in the pockets of his coat. He pulled out a wrinkled bundle of hundred dollar bills and slammed one on the counter. “I require some, erm, how you say? Guns.”
“Guns?” The man behind the counter said as he poked an eye over his magazine to look at the hundred dollar bill and the wad it came from.
“Qui, guns! Big guns! Guns guns guns! Pew pew” He said smiling as he cocked his fingers as little guns.”
The old man looked the stranger over and gave a little eyebrow smirk double take and said “Ok.” He slapped his magazine down and swivelled his chair around. He swivelled out of sight through the wire mesh, the Frenchman tried to crane his neck around and see what he was doing. But before he could get a good look the old man had swivelled the chair back around. He slammed a heavy black gun on the counter and plonked a box of shells down next to it.
The old man leant on the counter putting his grizzled salt and peppered stubbly face in his hand and said “Six hundred buck”.
The Frenchman picked up the gun, it was a large shotgun with a pistol grip, he held it up and marvelled at it’s curves. “Mei qui, she is beautiful, I am in love.”
“Franchi spas 12 combat shotgun bangbang. Take a fucking helicopter down with that bad bitch” The old man said pausing for some ‘oohs and ahhs’ but he went on anyway “Semi auto or pump action, it’s a real beast, got a fold up stock there you see that?”.
“Non, mes ami, she is a beauty.” He said as he looked up from the gun briefly inbetween caressing it and possibly whispering sweet nothings to it. “I’ll take it” The Frenchman smiled.
“Great I’ll go get your paperwork”
“Attend, can I have a look at something else, maybe un cuteau, a knife or a pistol perhaps, in that cabinet over there.” He pointed to case behind him.
“Sure” The old man said as he turned to rummage around in the case.
The Frenchman smiled and whispered to the large gun as he opened the box of ammo on the counter and loaded a single round into the chamber and cocked it.
The old man turned around hearing the hollow noise the distinct sound of impending doom. An elephant rearing up to stomp on your head, a train being loaded into a revolver barrel under the hammer.
“Keys sil vous plait.” He said in a dull commanding tone.
“You’re making huge mistake” The old man said as he ripped the key bang off his pants and threw it on the counter.
The Frenchman smiled and glided backwards. The gun raised in his one hand held aloft straight and strong without shaking like it was an extension of his arm. A long black finger pointing an accusation, an objection to life and liberty and the American way.
The Frenchman sidled up to the door with the keys, locked it without looking and flipped the sign on the door from open to closed.
He smiled and said “Now the fun can begin.”
Fuzzles swallowed dry and swiped the torch back and forth like a lightsaber or like a hose he’d lost control of. He finally got it straight, it was tough without thumbs. He aimed it at Sparkles, she looked frozen, a unicorn in headlights. She was standing inside the door way, he traced her body with the light slow. Nothing seemed out of place until he reached the floor.
On the floor he could see what made the door so hard to open.
Lying propped against the door was green dog, his head down almost in his lap, one of his paws tangled in the handle of the door.
“Oh my” Sparkles said. “Is it ok?”
Mr Fuzzles stepped closer, slowly, the torch light growing larger, he crouched next to the dog to get a better look. The arm tangled in the door was badly broken. The bone sticking out of the costume, it looked like one solid tug and the whole thing would have come off. “Err he’s just sleeping, I think”
Fuzzles prodded the dog in the head, once, then another time. There was no response. He took the torch and went over it’s body again. There were no visible wounds but there was a strange liquid coming out of the dogs mouth and the costume was damp with sweat.
“I think we should head back to our rooms” Fuzzles said as he stood up letting the torch drop to his side.
“What?” Fuzzles said.
“What?” Sparkle replied.
“Didn’t you just shush me?”
“No” Sparkle said.
“Then who did it?”
“Can you hear them?” A whisper cut through the silence like a razor blade on thick white paper.
“What? Who’s there?” Mr Fuzzles voice quivered as he spoke.
“I can hear them now. Their voices, like ants crawling in my skull, trying to get out.” The voice vibrated, and it sounded almost like it was coming from all around them or it was in their heads.
“What’s going on?” Sparkle said as she pressed herself against Mr Fuzzles. Fuzzles tossed the tiny beam of light about the room trying to find the source of the voice.
“I’m right here” The voice said.
“Everywhere.” The voice was coming from all over the floor.
Fuzzles swiped at the ground with the torch and he saw them, like a carpet. All the furries from the convention centre were lying on the ground not moving. Stolid and still like giant plushies, mascots in an abandoned theme park.
“Can you see me now, can you hear me now?” The whispering was coming from the bodies on the floor, each one in unison with the same voice, speaking as one.
“Fuzzles, what’s going on?”
“Wwwwwwe have to go, now” He said as he grabbed her by the shoulders and started pushing her back towards the exit.
“I can hear them now, all of them, all at once. Do you wanna know what they say?”
“Come on, we gotta go!”
“I wanna know what they say” Sparkles said as she offered some token resistance as she was ushered towards the door.
There was a slow shuffling noises coming out of the darkness, a heavy laboured breath, sucking of saliva and a strong odour growing stronger.
Fuzzles doubled back reaching the for the torch like it was crusader sword and pointing it in the general direction of the noise. Holding it out away from his body like he was trying to cross the streams.
He lifted the torch as the figure in the darkness started to take a loose shape, the form seemed to be shifting as it moved. First a foot, or something like a foot, the remnants of a tattered shoe clinging to the formless ling that now remained. Ripples of loose skin sagging down.
Fuzzles gripped the torch firmly, his hands felt like they were on wires as the light panned up without his control. The body under scrutiny was destroyed and blown out like a popped exercise ball. All the skin hanging off, holes all over the chest almost like a beehive, the bones exposed in some parts.
“Hey it’s that guy from the poster outside, what was his name again?” Sparkles said as she started to muse.
“They say it over and over and over, all this time I pretended I could talk to the dead and all they say-”
Zomnision stepped face first into the beam. His eyes white and sullen, his cheeks long and disdended, face torn open revealing a jaw, his swammy hat hanging half off. Skin colour was pallid bluey green and his teeth looked overly white and almost glowed in the torchlight. His gait was slow and laboured. He spoke but his lips didn’t move.
“All they say over and over in my head is….” His jaws clenched revealing those teeth, tightenting buckling almost under the strain of the jaws.
“Eat, gnash, rend, chew, bite, swallow, feed, brains, flesh.” The whispering got more harsh and low. He kept repeating those words over and over and over until the bodies on the floor started to jossle in place. Their limbs moving spasmodically, his will and theirs combining.
Electricity running through their veins, they bounced on the ground like it was hot. A sea of furry limbs, koalas and wolves and lions and tigers and bears, writhing between life and death. Hungering uncontrollably for anything and everything dancing to a silent tune.
“Oh no” Sparkles said.