The Guessing Ghoul

“Something is moving,” that was the thought that seemed to arise with his consciousness out of some far away abyss. “Hand.” He let the world roll itself around through the murky nether, taking form and thus meaning. “Hand. Hands. Something’s moving.”

“My hands,” he thought, “are moving.” He knew this because he was watching it, the realization that he was experiencing it had not occurred to him. It was another half an hour before the sun disappeared completely over the horizon, and he was able to gather his thoughts.

As his formless mind began to condense, he asked himself some rather important questions. “What am I?” No answer. “Where am I?” He looked around. “Ancient site? No, not ancient site. A memory, memories; somewhere I used to know? Someplace I used to live? What am I?” He looked around. On the wall to his left was something familiar. “Someone.” He stood up and waltzed clumsily around, grasping at furniture for balance. When he regained his balance he started to carefully inspect the room. He found more someone’s. But they weren’t the someone’s themselves; they were people he knew? Of course, but these weren’t people, they were

“Pictures.” The word, the concept and the memories came back. “Pictures were paper copies of things you love. Of people you love. Something like that. Except not always love, maybe.” Who were the people in these pictures? “Mother, yes, that was his mother. Brother, Barrett.” The other person was more difficult, but once he got the name he realized that it was himself. “Was himself? Brad. What am I?” He looked around and found other pictures that he recognized using names like wife and son and aunts, uncles, cousins and all the others. They were his what? Like him, but not himfamily? Yes, his family. They were his family. “Were? What am I?”

He found a mirror and studied the image in it. A dead man stared back at him. Yellow versus red eyes. Lifeless grey flesh, devoid of any characteristics that mark the living. “I am a dead man staring at myself in the mirror, asking myself questions that are beginning to seem familiar, but what am I?” He closed his eyes, seeking refuge in the remnants of his mind, blocking out outside stimulus. In doing so he lost balance and collapsed unto the floor in a pile of himself. The pile remained for quite some time, trembling, thinking, remembering. “I am something horrible. I am a monster.”

Dark images assailed him. Blood, gore, flesh. “Sweet, succulent, living flesh. And blood, oh the blood, one can’t extrapolate on the carnivorous delights of the flesh without a mention of its own gourmet marinade. What horrible, delicious thoughts.” He grew hungry.

The pile picked itself up and looked back into the mirror. “Am I evil? I am dead, yet I walk. As far as I know I serve no dark purposeexcept. Except for this hunger for the living members of my own species. Former species?” Two words came to mind, zombie and vampire. “If I am a zombie than I am an undead creature who walks the earth feeding on the living.” But he definitely remembered the horror of daylight, somehow that seemed like an important fact. “But if I am a vampire then why do I feed upon the flesh and not just the blood.” His reflection reminded him that vampires don’t cast reflections. “Do they?” And vampires were strong. He did not feel strong. He felt weak. He felt hungry.

He spoke into the mirror, “But zombies can’t speak. So what am I?” With this he turned away from the mirror and made his way to the place that smelled like food. The basement.

When he got to the bottom of the stairs he reached up instinctively for the light switch that was located near the ceiling. Still following the odor of human flesh, he made his way into a small room where an old oil furnace had sat unused for forty years. There were bodies strewn out across the floor of the dark room. When he pulled the cord which resulted in the illumination of the room, he was able to recognize the bodies with names like mother, brother, wife and son. He was not immediately alarmed to find the corpses of these people, but it did seem to spoil his appetite almost entirely.

The bodies were all disfigured in the same manner. There were bite marks on the necks, stakes in the hearts and various items plunged into the skull through an eye socket. “Who did this, he thought? Did I do this? I didn’t do this. I couldn’t do this. Not to them. Could I?” He marveled at how proficient his mind was at producing questions while showing a complete inability to provide itself with any answers. “If I didn’t do this, then who did? And why, and how?” It looked as though his loved ones had been attacked by vampires; later been staked in the heart, then had their brains destroyed in case they were zombies and not vampires by ‘you never can be too sure’ sorts of monster hunters. It was all insane and it added to the ambiguity surrounding the biggest question. “What am I?” The hunger seemed to have subsided, so he returned upstairs to look for clues.

Then it occurred to him, that maybe there were other monsters out there. Monsters just like him, perhaps. Maybe they would know what he was? He started for the door, but was frozen in step by a second realization. If there were monsters out there, like him or not, would they be friendly? Would he be safe among them? Was there an unspoken code among the ghouls? Suddenly outside seemed unsafe, at least until he could get things figured out. He returned to the chair to think.

“How long has whatever is going on, been going on? How many nights have I sat here thinking all of these same thoughts? How many nights have I made some progress, only to have let it slip by in another days slumber? Or, perhaps, maybe I figure a little more out each night and make some progress. So maybe this is my first night here. Could I have been traveling in increments from some far away destination where I was caught at the beginning of this nightmare? Had I been rushing back valiantly to my family’s aide only to find them dead? Were they monsters before they were destroyed? Monsters like me?” He went back to the basement to have another look at the gruesome scene. “They don’t look like monsters, not like me.” He felt detached, except that something like relief seemed to wash across him when he told himself that he didn’t do this to them.

He remembered killing. He saw screaming faces, twisted in terror and horror, but meaning nothing but food to him. He couldn’t recall who or where, but there were ugly things like these that he took to be memories cluttering up his mind. Looking at these bodies he did not think of food.     Sitting in the chair again, he asks himself, “What Am I? If I have been here for awhile then I must have left myself some clues.” He got up and looked around the house. There were no notes written to him by him. There were no signs of anything that reminded him of anything except that this was his home. Even more unusual, there was nothing to indicate anything odd had happened in the house. If everything inside the house was normal (except for the corpses in the basement and a very confused ghoul roaming about), then what was going on outside?

He decided to go out and check. He would go out and look around, and if anything didn’t seem right he would come back in. Then he thought, why not just look out the windows? The windows were all well covered with blinds and curtains, effectively making them walls to any lights or views from outside. “Better to just actually go out into the night and get it over with,” he decided. Slowly and deliberately he made his way to the door. Each clumsy step betrayed a fear of what he might find out there. As he reached for the doorknob, he asked himself again, “What Am I?”


 

When police found Brads body, apparently self mutilated in too many disturbing ways, it was lying below a picture sized mirror in the O’Cally family den. Scrawled on the mirror were the words, ‘I Am Insane’, apparently written in the killers (the corpse/suspect/victim) own blood.

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