I am the whisper in the trees.
The shadow in the night.
I am a tale better left untold.
A tail, better left unseen.
Every mother has her demon. Her worst intention, hidden behind something sweet and fluffy. Something that she sets loose when dark deeds need to be done. And Mother Nature has me. I am that demon. I am that worst of intentions, the dark deed needed done. I am the one she sets free when nightmares don’t cut it. When people fail to heed her final warning. When there is no other way.
I am the harrowing that follows in the path of vengeance.
When the scale of balance is pushed too much a certain way, I make it even again.
All fear me, even Mother Nature. That’s why she keeps me caged away, safely, out of sight. Until a time comes when she needs my claws. When she needs my teeth, my wrath and fury, my manic lust for making art.
The art of blood and screams. Avant-garde. Savant-gore.
My addictive romance.
“Don’t forget to close the cage when you finish feeding her, okay?”
“We don’t want her running around again.”
Little Annabell nodded absently as she was placing nuts inside the cage, one by one. Her face was tense with concentration on the task at hand and she didn’t let her mother disturb her with comments.
The nuts had to be stacked neatly and there had to be precisely ten of them.
Or else Morgana would get angry and chew Annabell’s ear when she went to sleep. Or was that just something her mother made up? Annabell didn’t dare to gamble on it, so she diligently placed the eighth nut on the small pile.
Morgana was her pet squirrel, or ‘squwiwel’ as Annabell pronounced the word. It wasn’t her fault that the word was so difficult to speak aloud and besides, squwiwel sounded much better to her anyway. It sounded sweet and fluffy, just like Morgana was.
“C’mon sweety, I don’t want us to hit traffic! Where are your shoes?”
“Hold on, mommy! Two more nuts!”
Annabell placed another nut on the pile. She glanced at Morgana, who was sitting patiently on a makeshift tree branch inside the cage. The squirrel’s eyes were fixed on Annabell and she just stared at the little girl, unmoving.
It felt a bit disturbing to Annabell, almost as if Morgana was looking to make sure she gets the correct amount of food for her. Just waiting to bite if Annabell does anything out of the ordinary.
“Please don’t nimble my ears when I’m sleeping, Mogana,” she said in a hushed tone, swallowing the ‘r’.
Morgana perked her ears, but remained still otherwise. How could those tiny black eyes make you feel so uncomfortable? Annabell wondered why she ever wanted a pet squirrel for her birthday. When she actually got one, she never thought they could be so… peculiar.
“Would you please put on your shoes?”
Annabell carefully placed the last nut in the cage and then sighed.
“I told you, I had to feed Mogana first!”
She closed the cage doors, but in her haste, she didn’t push the metal hard enough to hear that ‘click’ sound, when the doors locked. She put down the bag of nuts and hurried to put her shoes on.
Then she followed her mother and they went to the store, leaving Morgana alone in the house.
They named me Morgana. They should have named me Murder. It is the word they use to describe my art, anyway.
I wasn’t always Mother Nature’s fury.
I was once normal.
A regular, pathetic little animal, oblivious to how the world worked. Oblivious to the dangers that surrounded me.
I was part of a family, once.
But that is all over now. That ignorant little animal died with the woods and I was born from its rotting carcase. The humans think they saved me from doom, taking me from the dead forest and bringing me in their home. But in reality, they only brought me closer to what I have to do.
Closer to slitting their throats, getting retribution for my destroyed home. Closer to decorating their house with my art, that beautiful mix of agony and pain, a perfect blood splatter.
And tonight, I will make my art. The little one left the door to my cage unlocked. It is a sign from Mother Nature.
She wants her dark deeds to be done and I am but a humble servant, eager to obey.
He kissed his wife.
“How was work, babe?”
“Horrible.” He sighed. I shouldn’t sound so sour when I come home. She only means well.
“I’m sorry, honey,” he said and forced a thin smile on his lips. “I’m really tired. It’s been another long day.”
She understood. God bless that woman, she was one in a million!
“Would you like me to heat up dinner for you? I’m pretty sure it’s already cold now.”
It was late. He was surprised to find Janice still awake at this hour. That book she was reading must be a real page turner.
“That’s okay, honey. I’ll eat later. First I need to unwind.”
“Okay,” she said. Her eyes were sympathetic for him and he loved her for it. She smiled. “You know, Annabell picked the stakes earlier today, when we went to the store. She told the butcher that ‘her daddy is a woodcutter, and needs juicy fat stakes, to keep his strength up!’ She was so sweet, I wish you could've seen her. Stomping her little feet and all.”
That brought a genuine smile on Andrew’s face. Their little girl was growing and learning fast, but she still had that innocence of a child. In a way, Andrew wished she’d always stay like that.
“Well, in that case, I bet it’s a real specialty.”
“Come to bed when you’re done with it, okay? You’re free tomorrow, right?”
There was a lot he needed to process, but he nodded anyway. “I will. I am. If you feel sleepy, don’t wait for me. Don’t want those pretty eyes growing all red now.”
She smiled and he kissed her.
“Love you too.”
Andrew left the bedroom and walked softly down the hallway. He paused at Annabell’s door and opened it silently, peeking into the room. The little girl was in one of her deep slumbers, head buried in the pillow and a leg sticking out of the blanket.
He snorted. And then cover his hand quickly, not to wake her.
Seeing his family almost made him relax and not worry about his problems. Almost.
Is my family in danger?
He went downstairs to the kitchen and took a beer from the fridge. He popped the cap on the granite counter and finally took that first sip, the one filled with bubbles and the promises of relief, the one he’s been waiting for through the whole grueling long day.
It tasted almost as good as Janice’s lips. But the promises of relief were hollow. His problems still loomed over him.
What on earth is going on here?
Andrew was chief woodcutter of his small business. He ran a team of a dozen other men.
And half of them were dead now.
Andrew took another sip, then walked to the living room and sat on the couch. He turned on the TV, but put the volume on mute. He didn’t really want to watch anything, just seeing some motion on the screen helped his mind work through things.
Could it really be some Greenpeace activists? This hardly seems random…
Ever since he and his team did that last job, clearing a few acres of forest up by the lake, things became… weird. His guys, many of them good friends, started having accidents. Men he knew very well personally, men proficient in woodcutting equipment, accidentally killed themselves with spinning saw blades, wood chippers and chainsaws. Andrew was bewildered. In all eleven years of him working with most of these men, there were less than a handful of cases where an accident occured, and even then it was just a small cut or a pinched finger, nothing major.
And now, in less than two weeks time, five men were dead. Not just injured, dead. By misuse of equipment, as the authorities concluded.
Andrew found it all so bewildering and disturbing, that he began to suspect there were people behind this. People who opposed what he and his team did. People who cared for the woods more than for the lives of men, and were prepared to go to extremes to enforce their beliefs, for whatever twisted and deluded reasons.
He took another sip and realized that the bottle was empty already. He stood up to get another one and then noticed the squirrel observing him from the cage.
“I don’t suppose you know what’s going on here, huh?”
The squirrel kept looking at him, unmoving. He had found her wandering amongst the fallen trees and decided to bring her home. She wouldn’t survive on her own without the forest and besides, Annabell wanted a squwiwel for her birthday. So Andrew took the animal with him.
But for some reason, she gave him the chills.
“You better not be bringing bad luck on us all, you hear?”
The squirrel cocked her head and looked at him sideways. Andrew shook his head. Talking to a squirrel now. You’ve got bigger problems than that.
He went back to the kitchen, and took another beer from the fridge.
The metal squeaks as the cage doors swing open. I am free. I am unleashed.
I can feel the rush of excitement surge throughout my body. The promise of fulfilment hangs thick in the air, just like the smell of alcohol, coming from the man’s mouth.
I watch my blank canvas as it sleeps on the couch, empty beer bottles placed on the coffee table before him, and a half eaten steak on a plate, resting on his stomach. I jump out of my cage and with a blink of an eye I’m already standing on the plate. It moves slowly, up and down, in sync with the man’s breathing.
There is a knife there, resting on the plate, soiled with grease and small bits of meat. A thought enters my mind, but I don’t need it. No need to make it look like an accident this time.
This time, my art can be expressed in full.
I run my claws on the plate slowly, making a screeching sound that wakes the man. I wait for his fuzzied mind to register me.
“What are you doing out?”
He reaches to grab me and that’s when I jump. With claws unleashed I latch on to his face. His mouth lets out a gasp of surprise and his eyes widen with shock.
I jab the claws on my arms deep into the widened white of his eyes, as deep as they go. Immediately, the warmth of eye juice splashes on my fur and the man lets out a melodic scream of pain, ecstazy to my ears.
He tries to grab me, but I shift upwards, twisting my claws in his eyes and holding onto his hair with my back legs. As I get a firmer grip, I pull. And I take out his pupils.
Encouraged by the man’s beautiful screaming, I run through his hair and to his left ear. While he is blindingly trying to reach out and grab me, I stick my arm into his ear canal and reach deep inside. I feel my way through the soft tissue until I touch on something tender. I push as deep as I can, until my claws tear through that tenderness, causing the man to roar and my heart to melt with pleasure.
I repeat with the other ear.
When my canvas is blinded and deafened, I stand back a little and just observe its beauty.
Then, for the final touch, I paint a bloody ring around the man’s neck, slicing his flesh with my claw.
“Andrew? OH MY GOD, ANDREW!!!”
Janice could not believe her eyes. Hearing screams, she came downstairs to check out what was going on. Seeing the scene before her, she thought she was having a nightmare. She hoped and then begged for it to be a nightmare.
But it wasn’t.
Her husband was lying on the couch, shouting his throat sore and clenching to his neck with blooded palms. There was blood everywhere, coming from his neck, ears and eyes.
Janice flet sick as she looked at him. His eyes were gouged out.
She fell in shock. What was going on? Who did this to him? Why? What can she do to help him?
“ANDREW, WHAT HAPPENED?!”
He didn’t seem to hear her. She scrambled next to him and placed her hands on his blooded head, trying to help somehow. But as soon as she touched him, Andrew jumped, swinging blindly at her, defending madly.
“ANDREW, IT’S ME!”
She had to stand back. He found a knife somewhere and was swinging it around with one hand, while clenching to his bleeding throat with the other.
Hot tears of fear, dread and confusion ran down her cheeks and her heart felt like it would burst if she but moved an inch.
“Andrew…” she whispered, her spasmodic cry robbing her of speech.
Then, Andrew stopped swinging the knife. He stood there, like a realization hit him.
He raised the knife.
And he jabed it deep in his throat.
Janice screamed in pain as her husband fell to the couch, covered in blood like an image of horror. She was in such shock that she did not feel something crawl up her leg, something wet and scratchy.
Janice glanced down and through her tears she noticed Morgana, the squirrel. She was all red, soaked in blood.
Janice’s words were drowned in another scream, this time of physical pain. The squirrel sliced open her skin on Janice’s side, where her night shirt exposed her body. Janice swinged with her arm to smack the little bastard away, but the squirrel simply ran over her body, stabbing her with those little claws.
Janice then nearly blacked out, as the squirrel pulled apart her sliced skin and crawled inside her body! The squirrel entered her colon. Janice watched in terror and disbelief, as the animal wiggled her way in, watched as the blood covered tail disappeared inside.
But the moment of shock was soon gone, replaced by an unbelievable agony, as the little demon clawed its way up Janice’s insides, climbing up and tearing everything. It was such pain that she couldn’t even scream. She prayed to pass out, and soon she did.
But the pain was so great that it brought her right back into consciousness. Janice could feel her insides getting shredded to bits, her colon and small intestine punctured and sliced. Her tonsils cut. Her vocal cord severed.
She felt like all her insides would come bubbling up in one big vomit, and as something forced her mouth to open, there came a torrent of blood and bile. And that squirrel, holding a piece of Janice’s flesh in its mouth.
The last thing that Janice saw, before darkness finally took her, was the squirrel looking at her. And it almost looked like she was… pleased.
I felt like being in an artist’s dream. Two magnificent pieces created in one continuous flow of inspiration. And then, a third project entered my vision. My tail was already soaked in warm red paint, like a painbrush, ready to paint another masterpiece.
The little girl’s face was concerned and scared, her eyes big and watery, not understanding what was going on. She held to the living room door frame with one hand and the side of her night skirt with the other.
When no one answered, she began to sob. Oh, what a sweet, sweet symphony…
I could only stand there, for a while, just appreciating the sheer beauty of the moment. But then, my artistic drive kicked in. I could not let the paint dry before I was done.
“Squwiwel?” Her childish voice said, so tiny and fragile. “Did you kill mommy and daddy?”
The cleverness on her part caught me off guard, but I didn’t stop. I couldn’t stop. I was nature’s fury.
My tail left a red streak on the living room rug as I walked over to my final canvas. The girl did not retreat as I climbed her dress, staining it with residue from my previous art.
“Are you going to kill me too?”
What a clever girl.
Her screams will be my magnum opus.