“Mom,” the daughter called as her mother entered into the Louisiana homestead, “did you get anything that isn’t shit?”
Her mother had been at the supermarket for the majority of the day, leaving the daughter alone at home, forcing her to lie under the tin roof and listen to the sounds of the rain pattering against the roof of the shack. After the death of the Husband, it was just the two of them deep in the murky swamp among the mosquitos, alligators, copperheads, and bears. They lived in a messily strewn together shack that only had one room. Mother usually slept on a blowup mattress on the floor, while Daughter had the luxury of using their couch as a bed. Other than that, they had a record player, a bug zapping lamp, an ancient wood stove, some rusted silverware, and a refrigerator. Filling their yard was a sea of trash, that would have smelled hideously, but blended in with the scent of the mold, mud, and still water of the swamp. Mother was far too lazy to clean up or take any of the trash to the landfill when she went out to the supermarket. It wasn’t like she was a hard worker or anything, seeing as they lived off of welfare checks that were sent to the family for Mother’s “injuries.”
“Watch your language, please,” Mother quipped back at her, stepping over a mountain of cigarette cartons, fast food boxes, soda boxes, and laundry. She held the groceries tightly in her hands: more cigarettes and a giant box of Goldfish. She set one of the bags full of dozens of cigarette cartons on the floor, then started to shake the Goldfish box, as if she was jiggling a present to see what was inside. It was easy to hear them sloshing around on the inside. The smiling fish on the front cover seemed to mock the rest that would soon meet their fate. In a way, it was disturbing that Pepperidge Farms could be so egregious by killing millions without a second thought, but then again, it was all for the greater good.
“Goldfish for dinner again?” Daughter whined. Mother frowned at her ungratefulness, but shrugged it off; she wasn’t at all in the mood to get in a fight that night.
“A nice man gave me a discount,” Mother retorted, “we actually talked awhile. His name was Mark. He even gave me his telephone number!”
Daughter sighed, rolling her eyes back.
“I’m not rushing it again, you know that! Mommy has just been… really lonely. I asked him if he wanted to get dinner sometime.”
“What did he say?”
“He was such a nice man, really! He said he would love to do something with me. He even asked asked me if I wanted to go over to his house to watch some movies this weekend! He was just splendid!” There was that word again. Every time that Mother found a male interesting, she seemed to describe everything with him as splendid. She would often bring one of them over for a night or two, and Daughter would usually go for long walks when this happened, only for a new man to be in Mother’s Life within a month or so.
“That’s great, ma, that really is.” In the dim candlelight of the shack, Mother’s operculum looked smaller than usual. Daughter almost wanted to compliment her, but she didn’t have the energy.
“Are you hungry, baby? I bet you’ve been so bored all day,” she asked her child with a slow blink of her eye. Mother’s skin almost looked like a rainbow of colors, looking entrancingly beautiful in the light. How Daughter wished that skin would shed like that of a copperhead. Maybe if she was able to have Mother’s skin, the kids at school would make fun of her less. She wondered if Mother knew how jealous she was.”
“Starving! Let’s eat!” Daughter begged.
The two sat down in the sludge on top of the mattress, their unnaturally skinny legs crossed over each other. Mother sat the Goldfish in between them, letting the screams from the inside howl into the shack. She pulled two rusty forks from under the mattress, taking one for herself and giving the other to Daughter, who nervously eyed Mother’s red, gelatin-like eggs in one of the corners of the shack.
“Mother, you never told me, who is the father of them?”
“That isn’t your business, now is it?”
“Yes, it is. It’s pretty moist out here, Mother, so most of them will probably survive till adulthood. I wanna know who made my siblings. Why are they red?”
“We can’t support all of them, you know that. We’ll probably have to eat some to stay alive.”
Daughter kept her mouth shut. She knew how disturbing and vile the suggestion was. Even still, her gills flared up in anger. She watched as Mother pried open the cardboard container in front of them, then they both took a good whiff of the contents. Inside of the box was a gallon and a half of water, and dozens of meatball sized fish were rushing from side to side, urging for some kind of escape. Unfortunately, the fish were too small to leave the box, and even if they somehow scaled the walls the two would happily be able to devour them.
“Are you going to eat?” Mother asked, noticing that she was staring off into space.
“You said you were hungry! So you better eat! I spent good money on these!” Mother practically screamed, then jammed her fork into the box, piercing one of the fish like Poseidon’s trident. The blood of the fish instantly began to float through the water, making the rest of them violently rush into the walls to escape, but to no avail. Mother yanked the fork from the murky water but had only grazed the fish, poking through its stomach and piercing through its intestines. The scales easily crumbled away for the might of the rusty fork, forcing the intestines to leave the flapping body of the creature and wrap around the silver, like a macabre rope. The fish dangled in the air, violently convulsing and gasping for water. Daughter watched in horror at the amusement Mother found in the creature’s torture. After a few more agonizing moments that sent blood splattering onto the mattress, she brought the fork above her head, letting the fish dangle above her mouth. With a quick chomp of her teeth, which were some of the only parts of her that were still human, she swallowed the creature and separated it from the intestines wrapped around the fork, sending the black grime of its digested food splattered against her face. Mother gleefully giggled, running her fins over his lips and letting the fluid slowly drip into her mouth.
Daughter’s stomach grumbled, and suddenly, she found herself craving the salty taste of their scales, the irony taste of their blood, and the cool rubbery texture of their insides.
“Do you think my eggs will taste this good?” Mother finally asked after the two spent nearly ten minutes feasting on the squirming animals.
“I think they will, Ma,” Daughter replied, rubbing her stomach, “but I ate too much.”
“Maybe we can have them tomorrow,” Mother responded.
“They don’t have to know that their mommy got a little hungry, do they? After all, I made them with love,” she said, softly purring, eyeing her children. They were puny inside of the translucent red eggs as they wobbled around. If only they could understand what the two were talking about. Would they be happy if the same woman who created them would be devouring them? Would they embrace death, or they would be afraid of their mother?
William Becker is an 18-year-old horror author with a mind for weirder sides of the universe. With an emphasis on complex and layered storylines that tug harshly on the reader to search for deeper meanings in the vein of Silent Hill and David Lynch, Becker is a force to be reckoned within the horror world. His works are constantly unfathomable, throwing terror into places never before seen, while also providing compelling storylines that transcend the predictable jumpscares of the popular modern horror.
His first novel, Weeping of the Caverns, was written when he was 14. After eight months of writing, editing, and revising, the story arrived soon after his 15th birthday. During the writing sessions for his debut novel, he also wrote an ultra-controversial short story known as THE WHITE SHADE that focused on the horrors of a shooting. Living in a modern climate, it was impossible for THE WHITE SHADE to see the light of day. Following a psychedelic stint that consisted of bingeing David Lynch movies, weird art, and considering the depth of the allegory of the cave wall, he returned to writing with a second story, THE BLACK BOX, and soon after, his second novel, Grey Skies.
A man is arrested after a strange series of barbaric animal killings in the Rocky Mountains. He is taken away from his family, and then placed behind bars, but not even the solid confines of prison can save him from the hellish nightmare that begins to unfold.
Roman Toguri finds himself burying the body of a nun in Boone, North Carolina. As the skies darken and it begins to storm, he is forced to shove the corpse into his trunk and take it home for the night, unaware of the torment that playing God will bestow upon him.
Enter Hell with two bonus short stories: The White Shade, an ultra-violent look into the mind of a mass shooter, and The Black Box, a psychedelic dive into weird horror.