Part of the Doc and Bogey Spooktober event where we write stilly horror-trope filled stories.
Thanks to Bogey (Here) for his help and inspiration for this story.
Marimack High fed the sleepy town of Marimack’s Valley with future farmhands, machine shop workers and retail employees to sustain its quiet mountain town economy. It’s a rare sight in the post-mamono world given its Mamono fraction of the population sits at around 0.03% or one in the town of four thousand. It gave rise to many youngsters whose lives would both begin and end in the local hospital, which could hardly qualify as a hospital at its meager size. The rural town was lodged firmly in the grandeur of the Smoky Mountains and gave residence to the group of friends known to the locals as the ‘Marimack five’.
This long standing group of friends is set to soon graduate from Marimack High, but their stories each start in the local elementary school, where they all met and remained friends since. Josie fit the stereotype of a small town girl, who was a lonely girl up until she met the intrepid bunch. She, unlike the rest of the group, was college bound and was set on removing herself from Marimack, even at the cost of her friends. Josie sat in contemplation upon her choice to leave Marimack after graduation alone on the worn wooden bench upon the train platform. There would be no trains tonight at the poorly-lit platform, but she had always thought to just get a ticket to anywhere and leave in the midsts of the night. She tugged at her red windbreaker to shield herself from the cool night air. Josie straightened her hunched pose when she heard the creaking of wood and footsteps behind her. A familiar male voice comforted her, “Relax, it’s just me.” said Mark, holding up his hands. He wore the high school’s Letterman jacket, sporting the Green-grey of the Timberwolves, to which he placed his hands inside to keep warm.
“I told George that you’d be here. They were all like ‘woah she wouldn’t go there.. idiot’ and just blew me off.” He said, sitting down next to Josie. They exchanged a look, which told Mark that Josie wasn’t in the joking mood. “You’re still dead set on leaving?” He asked in a genuine tone.
She sighed and cupped her face in her hands to let her long black hair better hide the mix of emotions that stirred beneath her eyes, “I am… I just don’t feel like there’s anything keeping me here… you guys are great and all, but I can’t just waste my life here.”
Mark leaned back on the bench, “I was hoping that I might be something that keeps you here…”
Josie looked to him with dread, “I… I got tired of waiting for you to admit it. It’s too late now, Mark. If you wanted to admit that you loved me, you should have done it long ago.”
He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath, “Yeah… something I’ll probably regret for the rest of my life, Josie. If it wasn’t for Pa’s shop, I’d go with you… we could build something together…” He paused in a rare moment of inner thought and stood up, “Let’s just enjoy the time we have left. Sarah got dared to go up to the ol’ Fetter Homestead up in the grove, want to come along?” He asked, holding out his hand.
Josie wiped a hidden tear from her eye and took Mark’s hand, “You’re right… let’s go.”
Mark didn’t expect her to plant a kiss on his cheek as she released his hand. He stood in surprise as she cheerfully walked across the dirt parking lot to his pickup truck. “Come on, Mark!” She waved while tugging at his locked door for him to hurry down to join her. He rolled his shoulders to shift his jacket and followed after her.
“I’ll run up and get Ham, keep ‘er running!” Sarah, the buxom blonde cheerleader said. Despite her rather unathletic outfit, an overly sized white winter coat, black top that just barely reaches her waistline, black and white plaid skirt, and tights and legwarmers fit for the 80s, she energetically thrusted herself out of the bed of the pickup truck and ran through the small street-side yard up to the older house. She knocked at the older wood door and cheerily rocked back and forth on her heels and toes. An older woman answered the door and smiled at Sarah, “Oh Sarah! How are you tonight?”
She grinned ear-to-ear and hugged the woman, “Oh, just great Misses Parker, do you mind if I borrow Hamilton for a bit? We’re all going to start studying for our finals at the diner.”
The woman slowly nodded in approval and called back into the home, “Hamilton, your friends are here!”
Hamilton, the so-called future town pharmacist, peeked around the corner with his square-framed glasses, scraggly hair and plain t-shirt. Miss Parker took her leave and he awkwardly smiled at Sarah. “Hey, Sarah. If we’re going to… ‘hang out’ together again, you should have at least called.”
She playfully smacks his shoulder, “Ham, silly, Josie and Mark are waiting on us. Got dared to run up to the ol’ Fetter Homestead, thought we could use that science brain of yours!”
He stepped out of the doorway, shoes already on. “Ma! I’ll be back in a few! Don’t wait up.”
The four could hear Misses Parker call back, “Have fun!” from deeper within the house as he closed the door.
“You guys pick me up before George? Where’d you come from?” Hamilton asked as he climbed into the back of the pickup truck with Sarah.
“Me and Josie were a bit further out so we came from the south side instead.” Mark said as he put the truck into gear and pulled out onto the silent streets. George wasn’t far, Mark thought. Just an intersection up and his albeit smaller family home was snugly fitted against a hill. They arrived in little time. “I’ll go get him.” Hamilton says, about to hop out of the bed of the truck when Sarah pulls at his wrist.
Hamilton looks back to her in confusion but Sarah just smugly points to a small red dot of light coming from behind the house. “He’s smoking the night away” She says.
“Hey George! Get over here!” Mark yelled out the open window.
The small red light is stifled as a rounder figure sways his way to the truck. George, brown hair running in long unkempt strands across his Megadeth t-shirt, tossed the remains of a blunt in the wet grass. “Keep it down you guys, my mom is sleeping” He said while he pulled himself into the truck bed to join Sarah and Hamilton. “What’re we doing?” He asked as Mark threw the truck in gear.
Sarah flashed her well-done eyelashes and made her best mock-spooky voice, “Billy dared me to head up to the Fetter Homestead in the grove… where legend has it that a spirit of a Mamono lurks from the time of the convergence….”
The pickup truck lazily drove through the foothills and gradually climbed the winding roads until they reached their destination at the lip of the mountains. A large plot of land called the grove sat fogged over, concealing the large flat plateau that had once been used to raise cattle and corn. The truck rolled off from the asphalt onto the dirt that led deeper in the grove. The teens could be heard arguing over if the story Sarah had told was even real as the headlights pierced through the fog to reveal a dilapidated farmhouse a few miles from the main road. “I’ve seen some wild shit while smoking…. they say that natives use it to reveal the truth. There’s gotta be something to it.” George said as the five all hopped from the older pickup.
“George, getting high and saying the native americans revealed it to you doesn’t mean it’s real” Hamilton replied, who kicked at the dirt as Sarah bounced up to the stairs of the homestead.
“Oooh… so spooky….” Sarah said, intrigued by the aged home. “Is there a ghost in there?!” She called out happily into the partially open door.
The door creaked loudly as it slowly swung open.
“Oh my god! Did you guys see that? Thank you mister ghost, so polite!” Sarah stepped into the house without hesitation to which Mark and Josie followed after.
“Is no one going to worry if we’re even allowed in here?” Hamilton asks aloud while he stood alone next to the truck.
“Don’t be a killjoy Ham, or I’ll say it was your idea!” George teased as he passed through the doorway.
Hamilton sighed and slowly ascended the steps to enter the abandoned homestead. None of them noticed as the door slowly closed behind them without a sound. Hamilton saw the group all standing around the common room they had entered, eyes affixed to something in the far corner. “The hell are those?” Mark asked.
Hamilton peered over George’s shoulder to see what looked like hundreds of small plushies. Each of them had large cartoon eyes, felt hair, some had hats, some had long robes…
“Those are Fumos” George said, pulling a blunt from his basketball shorts. “I’ve seen ’em online… Japanese plushie characters. They’re collectable”
He lit the blunt as Hamilton stared oddly at the plushies that littered the corner of the common room, spread across furniture like confetti. “What are they doing in an old home? This house is probably seventy years old, why’s there Japanese stuff in here?” Hamilton asked, his shaky voice revealing both his confusion and slight fear at such an out-of-place sight. Sarah laughed from the kitchen, “Look, some of them are set up in little funny scenes!”
Sarah was correct, a red-colored plushie with brown hair, red robes and a bow tie upon its head looked as if it was operating the stove, to which a blue dressed doll with a blue bow and dress sat in a pan on the stove. Across the room, a witch-hat sporting blonde plushie sat atop a large nondescript brick wrapped in paper with fake money strewn around it. One with large bunny ears sat as if to listen to a broken radio, another pink haired one in a blue dress sat next to the power plug as if it had pulled the cord for the radio. Scenes of the plushies sat frozen across the house, each in some mischievous or strange scenario. “Someone thinks they’re funny” George said, taking a drag off his blunt. The five were only pulled from their intrigue at each scene by George’s cry.
The four turned to see George, who floated frozen with blunt-in-mouth as fabric covered paws began to reach from the wall behind him. A predatory face, hidden by reality and burned into the shadow of the wall twisted in satisfaction as the four watched George change. Hair turned to yarn and skin turned to silk as George’s frozen visage twisted and shrunk from that of a horrified stoner to a small Japanese plushie reminiscent of their friend, even with a novelty fabric blunt.
“TRUCK! NOW!” Mark yelled as the four ran for their lives, the predatory face marred the surface of the wood with shadows and smiled as they did so.
Each of them burst free from the homestead to see the pickup truck shrunk to about a fourth of its size and now composed of yarn in crochet rather than forged metal. “Fuck… scatter!” Hamilton said as the remaining four each began to sprint in various directions. The four didn’t have to fully ask what Hamilton had meant, they trusted that he had figured out the best action for survival based on their brief glimpse of their ghost. Josie ran for the small shed at the edge of the property, Mark made for the old barn, and Sarah headed for the aged cornfield; each of them had just enough time to turn around to see Hamilton, still thinking over his next action, gripped by the leg by a fabric paw. There’s a moment of silence as Hamilton looks at Sarah and their eyes lock in horror. “I’m going to miss those nights we spent-” Hamilton doesn’t even finish his sentence as he is dragged bodily into a fabric laden hole that opened in the ground. The sucking hole that he fell into began to well out fabric, yarn and tufts of cotton that slowly began to spread across the yard, replacing reality with silk, felt and wool as the remaining three ran to their select refuges.
Mark slid through the cracked barn doors and wandered in the midnight black space for a moment. He took a deep breath of the musty hay filled air and slid down against a support beam. He had just witnessed two of his friends taken by… by something, and Josie was out there… alone. It was a lot to take in at once for Mark. His eyes gradually adjusted to the space and he placed his hands on the floor to push himself upright. He felt cotton between his fingertips. Mark blinked, as if the act would speed up his eyes’ accumulation to the darkness, and a pile of cotton, in place of hay, filled the corner of the barn where he had just sat. Yarn hung haphazardly from beams like stray fragments of hay and felt fabric stacks littered the remaining areas in the barn. He silently backed away in the direction of the smaller room attached to the barn. He felt something metal drag across his back gracefully as he did. Mark turned to see a needle hanging by a thin string as if in place of a meathook. He entered into the smaller room, expecting tools and storage, but found sewing machines, needles, bobbins, staplers, markers… it was like someone emptied hundreds of grandmother’s craft rooms in one location. One woven object stood out from the table littered with half-finished patterns and partially assembled plushies. It looked like a book that had been hand woven. Mark picked up the deceivingly heavy hardcover and read the title under the crack of moonlight that filtered in from above. “Industrial Textile Society and Its Future…” He read aloud. Mark turned the fabric pages and glazed over the woven English words. They all told of a deep hatred for the textile industry. He read phrases about ‘Bogeys becoming obsolete, tossed aside and used like whores by the sinning textile industry’, ‘big cotton had planned the downfall of wonderland..’ and ‘clothing is no longer hand made by loving bogeys but uncaring machines’. He considered the work a rambling mess of a deep seated hatred for the modern textile industry and thought to set it back where it belonged, abandoned.
Mark closed the cover to see his left hand now resembled a mitten more than it did human flesh. He knew that the creature’s grip was on him already, so he calmly pulled at his jacket sleeve to see how far it had spread. His wrist was slowly but steadily being changed from football-built muscle and bone to soft and warm fabric. He pulled one of the many markers from the workbench and with what time he had left, he scrawled a message out on the fabric sheet he grabbed. It simply read ‘I’m sorry I never said I love you. I will, forever and always.’
Mark held on to the fabric as he looked back to his arm. He had to pull back his shirt to see the process had already reached his shoulder. He thought to run in his last moments, but the soft and comforting grip of patchwork paws hugged at his back. The wall of the barn he leaned on had already began to change with Mark, shifting from wood to wool as he looked over what he had written. A gentle female voice comforted him from the wall where the paws had come from. “It’s okay… I will love you forever.” It said.
Sarah ran through the dead corn in a blind panic. Ham, her best-friend-with-benefits, had just been taken in front of her eyes. She could feel that it was her next. “What would Ham do… what would he do?” She panted, as her body forced her to race away from the homestead, as if it would help somehow against the supernatural. She tripped in the corn-stalk covered ground and fell into a soft warm body. Fabric paws hugged her gently into a large pair of breasts while a predatory gaze looked at her terrified face. Sarah struggled to break free from the otherworldly strength of the thing that had emerged from the ground, fully manifesting in the world. A sharp and predatory, but motherly gaze met Sarah’s tear-filled eyes and her screams for help were silenced by the gentle cooing of the Mamono. Sarah yelled until her lungs turned to cotton and her mouth turned to stitching, only to be left as a plushie alone in a dead field of corn.
Hamilton blinked the confusion from his mind as he awoke in a mystical and vibrant green forest atop a bright white brick path. He pushed on the ground to rise from his fallen form but found the grass he was on was made of fabric. Small colorful mushrooms dotted the ground around him each emitting colored light. He stood up and glanced around to see the myriad replica of a near-fictional forest rendered by fabric and cotton. He rocked his mind for anything that would help and remembered the multi-tool that he kept in his back pocket. What was the bane of plushies and twine? A cutting implement. He flipped out the knife from his multi-tool and held it in a reverse-grip as if ready to stab. A female voice chuckles around him, as if the laugh came from all directions at once. A soft object hits him from behind and Hamilton turns sharply with the tool ready. He could see a Fumo plushie rolled on the ground after it had struck him. It wasn’t any character he recognized but he swung around at another laugh from behind him. Three Fumos sat before him. It didn’t take him long to see why they had been placed there. One plushie sat with a fabric blunt in its mouth, another sat in a jock jacket with a small message scribbled out on a fabric sheet, and one was a blonde in a plaid skirt. His heart ached at the capture of his friends, but he knew that if some sick Mamono had caused this, not all hope was lost. “Come on.. that’s mean.” He says to the fabric forest around him. The soft feminine chuckle echoes around him again as he begins to lose his composure. “That’s it? Just laughing at me? Come on! I’m here! You’ve taken my friends… what more do you want!?” He yelled into the dense fabrics.
A fabric paw placed itself firmly on his shoulder and Hamilton swung the knife around wildly to stab at it. Fabric meets fabric as the fully manifested bogey looks to him with a patronizingly motherly gaze. “In wonderland, we don’t hurt others” she said in a low but scolding voice. He looked down to see the multi-tool had been transformed into a plushie approximation. Hamilton knew immediately that he could do nothing anymore, if he was really in the proverbial wonderland, to which he had only ever read about as myth, he was in a separate dimension that was under the complete control of this Mamono. He sighs and drops the plush tool. “Can I at least go with some dignity?” He asked, looking into the piercing button eyes of the bogey.
“Come here, dear.” She cooed, letting him rest his head on her breasts as she embraced his changing form.
Josie looked through the old untouched shed and had quickly found a large pair of fabric scissors, to which she armed herself with. She wasted no time running from the encroaching fabric infection that spread across the yard of the homestead. Like Sarah, she ran from the farm, but had decided to follow the dirt path out to the main road. Crunching leaves exposed her sprint through the dense fog. Eventually the leaves stopped crunching and the dirt had ceased to make gritty noises when she stepped. The fabric had caught up to her. She thought to yell and begin hurling insults blindly into the fog, but if she had made it this far, she could get off the property. A sourceless female voice started a mischievous chuckle as she ran. “Oh my… what do you have there?” It asked.
Josie held up the scissors and yelled “A knife!” as she ran.
“No!” yelled the bogey, as if a parent had just discovered their child with such a utensil.
Josie continued to run with all the conviction she had left. She felt like she was running away from the town itself, like she had wanted to do time after time. She could see something appear through the fog, but continued right until she almost hit the wall of veiled yarn. It rose like a dome from the ground and ran far to either side of her. She guessed it encompassed the entire property. Soft footsteps of fabric could be heard behind her, to which she draws the scissors like a sword. The bogey slowly walked towards her and held four plushies in her arms, just underneath her ample chest.
“They tell me your name is Josie…” It said as Josie held out the scissors threateningly.
“Stay away!” She yelled. Josie looked down to the plushies and her heart broke. She could see the visage of each of her friends in them. She could clearly see the fabric piece held by the Mark plushie. A tear streams down her cheek as she reads ‘I’m sorry I never said I love you. I will, forever and always’ on the small sheet. “What did you do to them?” She cried out, scissors held shakily with her emotion.
“They joined me… you should too. They want you to stay.” The bogey said gently.
“I told them… I told them I was going to leave.” Josie yelled.
“Stay…” the bogey cooed.
Josie opened the scissors and plunged them into the yarn wall. She yanked down hard to tear a rent in the yarn dome that held her. “I’m sorry Mark…” She said to herself as she jumped free of the yarn to the dismay of the bogey within. She ran into the cold night air of the Smoky Mountains and never looked back.
The trucker straightened the newspaper he read as he sat at the diner table. The waitress returned to refill his coffee and deliver the plate of scrambled eggs, bacon, and pancakes when he spoke up. “This true? Local girl went mad about dolls and killed a bunch of ‘er friends?” He asked. The waitress sighed, “If you knew the kids, you wouldn’t be asking. She didn’t do it… but no one knows what happened to the other four”. The trucker looks at his plate, “Damn shame” he said before digging into his food. The newspaper lay on the table as he ate quietly. The headline read “Josie Sandario arrested under suspicious disappearance of four, Local kids still missing.”322 Views