H The Taking of Al

Editor’s Foreword

I did think about making the ending a little more explicit, but, on second thought, I didn’t think it was going to be too difficult to figure out what’s going on here.

The year had been good for Al. Spring came and went, ushering a fine summer. Al spent his days enjoying the bright sunshine. It never did get too hot that year, which made every moment outside in the fresh air a pleasant experience. Even when it rained, Al enjoyed the feel of the squishy mud between his toes.

As summer turned to autumn, the air grew cooler but Al continued to enjoy the brisk outdoor air.

Until one day when Al was cruelly taken from everything he knew.

Someone grabbed him by the hair and forcefully pulled him from his spot in the backyard. They scalped him almost immediately, then chopped off his feet. Finally, as if to add insult to injury, they stripped him, exposing his pale ivory skin to the world.

By the time Al recovered from his shock, he found himself in a pile of his neighbors. Like him, they had been scalped and stripped. The room was dark and cool; they seemed to be suspended in the air, dangling at an unknown height.

Then, light entered the room as a door opened. As Al’s eyes adjusted to the light, all he could make out was someone grabbing one of his neighbors from their trap. They let out muffled screams which their captors didn’t seem to notice.

The door remained open. Al and the others looked on, fearful of what may happen. Their neighbor–whose name no one seemed to know–was set upon a table, alone.

Then, to their horror, they watched as their neighbor was chopped right in half! Each of his halves was sliced several times. And then, finishing him off, his remains were diced and tossed in a bowl.

Yet, to their surprise, their captor seemed to be crying. Mercy, Al thought. Perhaps he will let the rest of us go!

Instead, their captor came for another. This time, Al’s neighbor Lia was taken. Powerless, Al could do nothing but pray. The room grew dark, as the door was closed once again.

As Al heard the chopping, he knew poor Lia’s fate. As for himself, he couldn’t decide whether they were the lucky ones who had already died, for they no longer had to endure the terror of waiting for their time to come.

Over the next while, more and more of his neighbors were taken. Time and again, Al heard the terrible chopping. Days or weeks, Al no longer knew how much time had passed. At last, he was alone in his cage.

But his “lucky” day never came. Instead, he felt his body begin to shrivel. He felt a thirst that no one would quench. Each time the door opened, he hoped that he would be taken so at last he could have the sweet release of death.

Floating in and out of consciousness, Al felt himself lifted one day. His captor poked and squeezed his body. Al thought for sure he may burst. This is it, he thought before he blacked out.

Weak, he awoke. The light was warm and bright. For a moment Al thought perhaps this was heaven. Instead, he found himself in his backyard. The air reeked of the corpses of his neighbors, and he found himself atop them all.

But, at least he was back outside where he felt he belonged.

 

About the Author

Dan C. Rinnert is the editor of ScienceFictionFantasyHorror.com.

 

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