No Eyes, No Ears, No Mouth, by Patrick Zac


No Eyes, No Ears, No Mouth




My wife and I were in bed when we heard it. We live in a small bungalow in Perth County. Living on a farm in the country, it’s pretty odd if you don’t hear weird noises. Coyotes, raccoons. Whatever else.
But this was something — different.
That night was eerily quiet for November. The fir trees all around the house were statue-still. The Canada flag in the front yard hadn’t so much as swayed. And yet it was so cold that I had to run the gas fireplace to keep Mary half-way comfortable. Mary has the window-side of the bed, so she feels it a little more than me. She’s got severe anxiety, so anything to help her feel relaxed is worth the extra money on the hydro bill.
It was around eleven at night. She was stoned on some grass I’d gotten for her, which always helped calm her nerves. She was going at me pretty good, when suddenly she stopped and cocked her head. “What — what is that?” she whispered.
I sat up and listened. After about five seconds, sure enough, there it was: a muffled hissing.
... sfff! ... sssffffff! ...
It seemed to be coming from just outside Mary’s window.
I flopped back and said it was probably some stray cats. She slapped my shoulder and told me I should still go check it out. I did. It’s the little things that make you feel like a big hero.
I put my robe on and strode around the bed, over to the large window. I slid it wide open. The cold air felt like the inside of a freezer.
Grimacing, I leaned out and peered into the dark: there was our gravel driveway, and our maroon Carola dimly illuminated by the lone yellow street light; beyond that, nothing but the endless rows of trees, blackened against the low-blue of the night sky.
I waited and listened, waited and listened.
Nothing.
The cold was starting to bite at my cheeks. I shook my head, shut the window, and then went back to bed.
It took a bit of time to get Mary to relax a bit; no matter what I said, she seemed to be unsatisfied. So I decided to try to soothe her the physical way. I started sliding my hand up her leg.
That’s when I noticed it.
Something rough and hard. I was sure it hadn’t been there a moment ago.
I asked her what it was. She looked at me quizzically. We got out from the covers and she held her leg under the night lamp.
A patch of skin on her thigh, about the size of my palm, was all tightened and crinkled up. More concerning, it felt hard — just about like brick.
Mary looked up at me, and now her expression was pure panic.
 
The next the morning, we went to emergency.
“Congenital fascial dystrophy,” the doctor told us. “Stiff skin syndrome.”
Mary only stared at the floor as the doctor elaborated. It was some kind of unexplained phenomenon. Only forty cases were ever recorded. He told us that all he could do was keep an eye on it with frequent checkups, and, if it spreads, they could try chemotherapy. Apparently, that would slow it down. But it wouldn’t cure it.
Mary became a little bit hysterical. I didn’t blame her. She never talked too much about her past, but I got the distinct impression that she’d been through a lot. Trouble with relationships. Trouble with friends. We even moved way out into the middle of nowhere so she could get away from all that, but as a result she hardly had anyone to talk to and stayed in a lot. And now this? It wasn’t fair.
Before we left, she shouted at the doctor: “Are you telling me that I could eventually turn into some kind of goddamn statue?”
He raised his hands and gently told her that he didn’t know.
I held her close and guided her out as she wept into my shoulder.
 
That night was pretty miserable for both of us. Mary was in lower spirits than ever. She didn’t even want to smoke. And I could barely stand to see her like that; so miserable, so defeated.
As if that wasn’t enough, that noise from out the window was back. I had stuck my head out that window three times, and each time the noise would disappear, only to start up again as soon as I got back into bed. We thought that we could try to ignore it. That lasted all of two minutes. We couldn’t sleep listening to that.
... sfff! ... sssffffff! ... ssssssffffff! ...
It got louder, louder, louder. Sharp, wetish sissing. More and more frequent. More and more drawn-out.
Mary held a pillow against her face and groaned in frustration.
I’d had it. I scrambled out of bed, threw on my robe, and stomped off to the garage where I grabbed an old two-by-four. Mary called out, asking what I was doing, and I hollered back to her that I was going to teach whatever stupid animal was out there to not come back. I was in no mood.
When I got outside, I stood there dead-still. Waiting. Listening.
Again, no wind. And again, the air was so cold that I felt like I might as well be in an ice-bath. But I was stubborn this time and concentrated.
No sounds.
I squinted, scanning the yard: maroon Carola, yellow streetlight, black trees.
Nothing out of the ordinary.
I marched around the house, checking the bushes, and clacking the two-by-for against walls to scare anything into movement.
No movement.
When I arrived back to the front, after my round, I gave a last once-over.
Odd, I thought. I didn’t remember leaving the bedroom window open.
That’s right when I heard a shrill scream from inside.
Mary.
I rushed inside, almost tripped in the doorway, and ran down the hall to our bedroom. There was Mary, half-naked and bleary-eyed, clutching her thigh and yelling.
It had spread. It was almost her entire leg now, the skin all shriveled-looking and stiff as stone. Around her were droplets of red. Before I could even ask what happened, she wailed at me: “Something! Something came into the room and it was — it was—” She froze and her eyes went wide as she stared at me. Not at me. Through me.
I could almost feel my pupils dilate. I heard it from right behind.
SSSFFFFFF!
I spun around, and the sight of it instantly struck me with dread.
In the doorway, facing us, there was what appeared to be a hairless quadruped of some sort. Its skin was bone-white and smooth, stretched tight around a jagged, hound-like frame. Its head, while maintaining the accentuations of a mongrel’s skull, had no openings or orifices whatsoever — no eyes, no ears, no mouth — except for two round holes at the end of a long snout, which dripped with what appeared to be blood.
It shuffled forward. Great talons on its paws clicked and clacked against the hardwood floor with every step. As it moved, its body twitched and contorted sporadically as if its very skeleton was trying to break out of the flesh.
Its shoulders rose as it inhaled through its black nostrils, producing that sharp, muculent sniffing sound.
SSSFFF! SSSFFF! SSSFFFFFF!
My heart thundered within my chest. I was so terrified that I could barely manage to keep my grip on the two-by-four. But adrenaline did its work. I swung and shouted at the thing, my voice only somewhat louder than Mary’s screams.
The creature only stood its ground. It kept inhaling. It kept sniffing. It kept twitching. I soon realized that I could no longer move my wrists. And my fingers were seized, clenching the two-by-four like a vice now.
I watched in astonishment as the skin on my hands and arms shriveled up and hardened with each whiff from that abhorrent creature.
I tried to kick it. The joints in my knees were stiff. I wobbled there for a moment on one foot. Before I knew it, the floor came upwards, and I was on the ground.
I lay there on my side, most of my body rigid, and whatever was left gripped by fear. From my limited field of view, I saw the canine-thing’s face over mine, its muzzle oozing warm red fluid onto my cheek. Then it grunted and stepped over me, out of my view.
Then I heard Mary shouting, pleading it to get away.
I heard more click-clacking from down the hall. I helplessly watched two more of the beasts gallop into the room, passed me, trailing arcs of sanguine on the floor behind them.
Again I heard Mary. She cried out now at the top of her lungs.
I told her to run. Over and over, I told her. Then I just shouted her name until my throat hurt so bad that I literally couldn’t do it any more. I don’t think she could hear me anyway. My voice was only drowned out by her bloodcurdling screams, which became more hoarse by the second.
Between each shriek, I heard them. All three of them. They were huffing and panting, snorting pig-like. Sniffing, sniffing, sniffing.
I could only listen. I listened as Mary’s screams became stifled and strained. Then dry, throaty rasping. Then wheezing. Then nothing.
There was just the sniffing.
I blinked out hot tears as the creatures finished whatever sick ritual they were performing on my wife. After a short time — but still far too long — the creatures one-by-one walked passed me and down the hall, seemingly no longer interested. As they shifted along through the shadows, they each blew air out of their nostrils, coarsely, as if belching after a meal.
Then they were gone.
 
It wasn’t that long before the cops arrived. Apparently, our neighbor across the street from us — a corn farmer — just happened to be outside that night, and just happened to hear the commotion.
I was questioned and all that. Everything you would expect. I worked as best as I could with the police’s investigation, from in a wheelchair. And despite my insane testimony, I think they actually believed me. If only because I was so earnest about the whole thing.
Actually, I learned a lot more about my wife, through the investigation.
I wasn’t that disturbed when the cops asked me if I knew about the other man. The man she’d been having an affair with when we were first dating. The man she murdered to keep quiet. Since then, pretty much no one but me had seen her, heard of her whereabouts, or even spoke about her until I verified her identity.
No — I was more disturbed by what I saw when the officers had found me. When they lifted my rigid body upright. When I saw Mary.
She was there on the ground, completely bare, and her entire body was solid stone. Her arms were raised in front of her face, her legs splayed open, and strands of her hair lay broken around her head. But her face is what did it — her horrified expression, wide eyes staring into nothingness, sealed in stone. Locked in her final moment of anguish. Her final moment of terror. Like some morbid sculpture.
And with that came some understanding of those creatures. No eyes, no ears, no mouth; see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
Mary never told anyone. She was living with that unrepented sin.
Those things sniffed it out. They sniffed it out of every part of her body.




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