Within – Month of the Macabre

“Within”
a short story by Jeremy C Kester

Click here for content warning and for what “Month of the Macabre” is here.

I was feeling strange at work. In fact, I had been feeling strange — ever since I read that letter. It was odd. I mean, who ever sends letters anymore? Everything goes through emails now. Or maybe even social media. Especially social media — that was the way that I preferred to interact. A letter though?

The entire idea was intriguing. There was a bit of romanticism to returning to the times where we had to wait for letters, where we weren’t able to call each other. Or even better, we didn’t have this thing called social media soaking up all our time. Then that idea goes away as I am reminded as to how boring that would be.

I was tempted to throw the letter away as it didn’t have a return address or a name for who sent it. It was better to be thrown in the trash rather than wasting my time with it. There’s a reason why we don’t write letters anymore. Curiosity got the better of me though, so I read it.
It made no sense to me. It was all written out in cursive. At least that’s what I thought it was. It took some time to figure it out. It only serve to piss me off as I did. There were only a few words too.

Feeding the need to rant and post,
Deny the being needs the most,
Brazen for in your sense abide,
To grow the beast you keep inside.

A goddamn fucking poem. As soon as I was done with it, it fell over to the side where I forgot about it. Not even a name was signed to the shitty thing, only making it worse. What the hell was it talking about?

With a quick search I didn’t find a whole lot about it. There was a few accounts I found with a similar letter, people who posted frequently and then nothing. Little information was around about what happened to them. Strange deaths or disappearances along with some conspiracies as to what was happening. I shared the links along with a picture of the letter. “Is this some kind of fucking joke?” I wrote on the posts before I went back to attacking the dumb-asses online who thought that they knew better. It was my favorite thing to do, to troll anyone who thought that they knew better.

Even at work, the duty of keeping idiots in check was necessary. Along side the PC where I ran my numbers, my phone would buzz with the notifications from Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and all the others. Some were people falling for my traps while others were alerts on updates from people that were important to follow. Sometimes they came through faster than I had time to pay attention to. The appearance of productivity had to be kept along with all this. As far as my own accounts, I kept a real account of myself on each platform. There was barely a post on any of them, all to let people believe that it wasn’t something I cared about.

It was the day after that I felt sick, as though something was swimming around in my stomach, like I ate a fish whole and it decided to keep swimming in there. Nauseated, I went to the bathroom a couple of times. Vomiting didn’t happen, nor did anything else. All the time I kept answering attacks online or laying out my own. Before leaving the bathroom, I stepped over to the sink to wash my hands. That was when I felt something crawl up my throat. Was I insane? Was that a finger that just poked out of my mouth?

Seriously? Was I going crazy? I stood there, water still running as I stared at my mouth. My tongue swished around to see if there was anything there. Did I just imagine it? I had to have.

Much of the day came along without anything out of the ordinary until I came across a DM. It wasn’t unusual to get DM’s, but this one caught me.

“The letter is going to kill you,” it said.

I thought it odd, almost laughable.

I typed a reply. “How so?”

A response came in fast. “My brother was addicted to social media like you. It killed him. You need to quit social media or the letter will kill you.”

“What could possibly hurt me? It’s only a letter with a shitty poem,” I wrote back.

Again, the reply was almost instant. Whoever this girl was, she was persistent. I looked her up really fast before I read her message. There were a handful of posts, not many. A few pictures of her brother and her, the whole family. Then there were messages about God and links to a number of articles on the pitfalls of social media addiction.

The laugh was unavoidable. She was one of those bastards that went around trying to convince people like me to get rid of their accounts. I opened up the message.

“It climbed out of him… it was like a demon or something. He was complaining for days that it felt like something was moving inside him after he got the same letter. There was… there was blood everywhere and it attacked me before running out.”

I deleted the message and blocked her. What the fuck was that?! This girl had to be part of some fucked up religious group. The letter was probably from her, laced with some drug. Shit. How could I have been so foolish.

For good measure, I reported the account and then sent all my followers after her. That would teach her a lesson.

When I got home, the feeling was getting worse. It didn’t matter. I kept close tabs on the happenings with all my followers posting screenshots of the conversations with that girl. Some of the conversations felt like they went too far, but fuck her. Her and her little church group shouldn’t have sent me that letter.

By the time I stepped into my apartment, the feeling came up again. It had to be the burrito from the other night. Why did I get that place again? It always gave me the shits.
As I passed the mirror, I felt the same thing I had earlier. Something crawled up my throat. Fingers curled out of my mouth. I even saw them, felt them.

I fell backwards, screaming. I slammed down against the floor, feeling my face. There was nothing there. Again. The drugs. I was pissed more than before by now. I laughed as I shook my head, ready to renew the attack, to update them on what had just happened. The response should be great. That girl will regret the day she messed with me.

The phone had skidded over to the other side of the room when I fell. I stepped up, picked it up, then walked into the bathroom. A good shit would solve this problem; a shit and a little bit of trolling will do the trick.

The feeling came up again. As I passed the mirror, I saw the fingers come out of my mouth. This time, I could feel them pulling my mouth open. I tried to scream again, but this time, there was no way to. My throat tore as something grew inside me. I felt unable to breathe, like my heart and lungs were being ground against my ribs. Pain was like nothing I felt before, my jaw pulled free, falling to the floor. I watched in horror as something started climbing out, my own blood covering it. I was gagging — until I felt my body torn in half.

Story is copyright 2020 Jeremy C Kester. Please do not duplicate without written permission. Linking is permitted.

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