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The Mongrel Man

by LewisPencastle2

It started out as it always did, he could remember its sequence perfectly. At first there was nothing but nothingness, an infinite black veil which appeared right in front of him yet was somehow forever out of reach. He was confident his eyes were opened because he could not feel them closed, but then again he couldn’t feel any part of his body at all. He tried to move his gaze, but whenever he did the omnipresent darkness only moved with him, creating only a useless, senseless thrash. If he kept what he thought to be still he gained a detached, almost relaxing feel as his mind drifted in the void of the dream, a much more pleasant thing compared to what was to come. But as soon as that thought ran through his nonexistent head the black abyss gained a harsh solidity as his knees were suddenly forced onto a cold, slimy floor. It was then that the wait began. Arnold knew. He knew the nightmarish sequence, the horrid cycle to a point, able to count each second of it. Arnold tried subtly to move his body and shift his view, but not a single nerve would budge, and no matter where he thought he shifted his gaze he only saw the same thing. It was now that he cared little for the soothing nothingness he once felt, no his mind was only set on the horrid thing which soon would fill it, all other thoughts were secondary to that. 

The time was coming nearer, he knew it so well he almost didn’t need to count. It always happened at the same time, it never let him get too comfortable in the nothingness. The dissipation of fear would only water-down the experience, something he’d come to know the void and thing stood against vehemently. It was just about to happen, he knew as the seconds amounted in his head. His body was still frozen on the floor but he clenched his muscles and tried to shut his eyes and prepare himself mentally for the thing he knew came each night, but got no less terrifying each time. And then it came.

Or at least, then it was supposed to come. But as time passed and the thing’s emergence was overdue, nothing changed. Arnold’s still frozen muscles felt as if they loosened and if he could’ve sighed he would have over and over, the black abyss now seeming like the loveliest thing he had ever seen. The tranquil black dream stayed motionless, quiet and pure, and most important of all, it hadn’t begun. A few more seconds passed. Nothing. Nothing, he thought to himself, nothing, nothing, nothing! It was gone, for the first time in forever he was free, finally-


Out of the corner of his eye a dash of white hurdled onto the black floor, now a rippling plane of cold water. The hump of white in front of him was horrendous, veiled head-to-toe in dying pale-white skin with the creaks and cracks of old rotting limbs echoing throughout the void. Albert’s mind tried to get his body to shake and tremble in fear but his limbs stayed frozen, only building up pain inside him. He tried to fight the seemingly infinite pressure of the abyss to try and move, to try and just move an inch to tremble, but his muscles didn’t even respond to his attempt. The white mess slowly unfolded itself. Arnold tried to flinch or look away but his eyelids were glued in place. The creature groaned as it rose to a hunched a stance, with gangly, thin claws twitching and bony joints shuddering under its tight white skin. The skin was like a shawl that wrapped around its skeletal frame, a rotting veil of it over its face except for their mouth, where yellowed fangs jutted out uneven angles. Despite its greyed rotting and sunken complexion, it looked like a shade of white brighter than the moon when compared with the nightly realm. A painful swell began in Albert’s chest, the start of the inevitable cue, a fact which pressured him to just let it out and be done with it. It was the cue that would set the blasted thing into motion, and he fought it with all his will but only will alone, willpower which quickly dissipated as the pain he couldn’t help only grew. The creature looked up at him, or at least he thought it was looking at him, its eyes veiled invisible in the sheet of skin. It didn’t growl or hiss, it was smart. It knew all it needed to do was wait, be patient. He hated the bastard, the thing, the monster. He wanted it gone, that thought though like all the others times taking up his mind. But as it did the focus he had of holding onto the breath in his lungs vanished, only coming back to him as he let out a gasp that pierced the darkness. There was the cue. The creature lunged at him with a growl like a mongrel as it sped up towards him. It jaws snapped just inches from his face, the force of the void holding it back with an invisible chain as it did every time. The stench of decay flooded from the creatures dark mouth, something Albert could only look at in full view in between flashes of sabre-like teeth. It continued to try and bite Albert with its jags of teeth before being reeled back by the void, only so it could try again. Its covered eyes were still staring at him, no doubt with hunger as it jumped again at him. It reached him again and with the first clamp of its maw Albert felt the wind pushed by the teeth, almost the teeth itself across the tip of his nose. That wasn’t how it was supposed to go either, It got closer. It never had. It shouldn’t have. The thing reeled back with a snarl and then leapt forward with a screech again. Albert tried to scream and thrash away but it still jumped, scratching his nose before it was pulled back. His nose burned yet felt cold and chilled the rest of his body, already frozen in the abyss. Then, as it always id it jumped again. Though now its leash was gone and it flung itself onto Albert, gripping his shoulder with its claws and its mouth about to clamp on his face before his vision dissipated and he felt himself falling back.

Albert woke up in a cold sweat, having fallen off his bed and tangled in his sheets. He wheezed and coughed as he held his head in his hands. It wouldn’t go away. He rocked back and forth, squeezing his eyes shut only to see the grotesque creature on the back of his eyelids again. Fumbling to his feet he staggeringly got dressed, shaking with each move. Before he himself knew it he was racing out of the door and down the street, not even halfway into his overcoat, on his way again to try and stop what seemed to never stop.

The clinic was busier than usual, full of irregulars and therefore people who gawked at the regulars. Most of them were haggard-looking as he was, half-dressed and quaking in their shoes. The new people there who accidentally mistook the place for a regular clinic squirmed out of the way as he shuffled to a seat, still sweating and muttering things to himself even he didn’t understand.

“Good morning, Mr. Douglas.” Ms. Li said from the receptionist desk. He smiled at her. That was likely the best part of his mornings, his day, the only thing that gave him a relaxed feel until he got a new drug prescribed.

The office was cold and bland, much like Dr. Volkert himself, which Albert supposed was fitting. It was so silent it might’ve made him nervous, had it not been for the buzz of the fluorescent light and the scrawling on the clipboard by Volkert. Finally, after his session of note taking he set the board aside and greeted Albert without enthusiasm. “Good morning.”

“Morning.” Albert sounded just as excited. Volkert strode to a cupboard and began sifting through its contents. “Same problem?” He asked.

“No. It’s changing.”

“Oh? How so?”

Alberts hands clenched and he shook along with his voice. “I-it almost stopped, it almost didn’t happen, and then… then it…”

“Then what? It happened?” Volkert sounded impatient.

“And then it touched me.”

“Hmm,” Dr. Volkert said, obviously not seeing it with the same impact Douglas did. He looked at Albert as if prompting him to say more, but he simply had nothing more to say.

“Change is not so usual in repetitive lapses of sleep paralysis.” The doctor said as he walked back to Albert and handed him a bottle. “We’ll have to send you for more testing later on to determine specifics, but until then I’m going to prescribe you these.”

“What’ll they do?”

“If they work, they should completely null your subconsciousness’s nocturnal activity, though take it sparingly. It’s not the drug we’d normally prescribe, as we’ve had multiple cases of extreme paranoia and halluci-“

Albert sprung from the hair and backed away towards the door, gripping the bottle tightly. “Y-you had this all along?” He sputtered in anger. The doctor only gave human exasperated look, like he was dealing with the antics of a child. “Mr. Douglas, you must understand, this is our most experim-”

“-I could’ve been free!” Albert shrieked. “…I will be free.” He muttered while looking at the bottle before bolting out of the office and down the hall.

“Mr. Douglas!” Dr. Volkert tried to call after him.

Albert sat upright in his bed, still fully dressed and sweating, even with the window open and welcoming a chill breeze. He took a pill about two hours ago. Was that too early? He hoped the other one he took just now didn’t negate the effects. Albert trembled in the lamplit room, anxious and afraid. Scared of something else for once in his life. False hope.

A bird chirped in his ear. That wasn’t part of the dream. As he opened his eyes, a blinding light followed the chirp, something which wasn’t right at all. There was no black, cold dream with a nightmare inside it, not one that he remembered at least. Everything felt real and calm, not disjointed and horrific. It hadn’t happened and if it did he hadn’t remembered a moment of it. He shot out of his sheets and jumped on the bed, letting out a cry of joy before lying back down, not afraid to accidentally go to sleep anymore. He was free from it, this time he really was. He could do anything now, everything in fact compared to his life yesterday.

Then a scratch broke the air and the bird’s chirping vanished. Albert’s ear felt cold just as the sound passed through it. He twisted his head around frantically in all directions and almost didn’t see anything, until his eyes landed on a spot of doorframe just a little bit less with than the rest. As his sight concentrated it came into clear view; a gnarled finger of dead pale skin. A low growl came next which made him twitch as beads of sweat formed on his head. “N-no…” He stuttered.

It didn’t follow his command and instead peaked its masked, sickly head around the doorway and gave a sickly growl which conveyed a message its veiled eyes could not.

“N-no, no, no!” Albert screamed. The creature didn’t wait like it usually did, pouncing onto the bed and giving him just enough time to roll out of it and land near his nightstand. The creature snarled and Albert scurried to his feet. The pistol that was once under his nightstand was now raised valiantly to the creature’s head, and he gave the beast no wait as well. He fired off two shots, but in fear his hand twitched to the right side and so the creature moved to the left and he never made his mark. Albert tried to shoot it a third time but the beast leapt again, and to dodge it Albert turned and plunged through the window. In the early morning the streets were filled with people out on early morning walks, something Albert didn’t notice as he crashed through the window. He scrambled to his feet, covered in blood and surrounded by bloody glass, firing shot after shot into the bedroom window. Shrieks and screams from the neighbours sounded, and Albert turned to one of them, a mother with a stroller, quickly backing away from him.

“Run, go!” He trembled. “It’s here!”

The walls of the courtyard were tall and thick with concrete, a fact the doctors mentioned to him over and over in reassuring him the thing wouldn’t be able to come near him. Fools. They didn’t get it, not that they even believed him. They took the pills too, and his gun. Neither seemed to help him, anyway. He could never escape it now. Wherever he went he saw a glimpse of it, a flash of white, the scratch of a claw or low growl. He shuddered, twitching in his wheelchair as much as the clamps would let him. The walls of the courtyard were nothing but an opaque grey, with a few windows dotting it and an artificial waterfall pouring a wall of water into a pool, perhaps to soften the brutal atmosphere the tall walls presented. It didn’t work, but it worked well for Albert in a different capacity. With his constraints he couldn’t flee the thing, no, but now he could do something to prevent that entirely. Thank God he noticed it, because it undoubtedly changed everything. He saw it, or glimpses of it when they wheeled him into the courtyard, and immediately he asked to be set up there. Right where he was, sitting by the reflective fall of water, the haphazard glass on the courtyard wall appeared on it and reflected every inch of the area, sometimes twice over, all presented in the showering water. It was perfect. Like a dutiful security man he sat in front of it with intent, watching it so carefully the doctors began to think he was actually insane. Or they already did he supposed, just more so. Didn’t matter. He surveyed his all-seeing, watery camera, the beast unable to just- appear, as it did, unable to do… whatever it would when it got a hold of him. He didn’t move and blinked one eye at a time. No matter how painful or lifeless a life this would be it was one of guaranteed safety as well, and to Albert that was a sacrifice of infinite gain. He wouldn’t eat. He wouldn’t sleep, and still he’d live a better life than he’d ever lived. The water was so clear as it fell seamlessly into the pool, like a television screen he could never take his eyes off, for fear of losing himself. A faint rumble grew in the skies above and the steps and murmurs of others in the courtyard faded to nothing, but Albert hardly had any focus left to hear either. Then a single drop of water, not one from the synchronized flow of the fall rocketed down and landed dead on the watery mirage. The image broke and shattered in ripples under the small but devastating impact, and Albert went cold again. He squeaked and hunched over as much as he could in the straps of his chair. It was here now, he had given it its chance. Rain was pouring hard now, dowsing everything and Albert but most importantly the water mirror, only able to produce a garbled reflection behind him now. But even so in its warped a background a speck of white had appeared miraculously, and Albert immediately began to shake and let out a whimper. He rocked freakishly in his chair but like the dream, his body barely budged. The rain picked up and flooded the courtyard, but even through the noise of the droplets a distinct guttural growl sounded behind him.

’N-no, not again.” He barely made the words out before letting out a scream. He writhed and and rocked back and forth in his wheelchair. Then he looked at the pool of water. Though it rippled from the stream and droplets, under the surface there would be nothing, a painful nothing but a nothingness nonetheless, more importantly without any horrid white moon in site. He rocked and jolted his chair even harder until it tilted back and forth, and when he felt a pair of icy hands on his back the chair finally plunged itself into the water, and water rushed into his lungs as he embraced a different kind of cold.

Albert Douglas didn’t know he was dead, and that was perhaps the best of all. He couldn’t think of what a beautiful thing the pure nothingness was, but it was fine for the same reason that he couldn’t see, hear, feel and experience what he’d come here to escape. Yet the great difference Albert was unable to comprehend in the dreams of life and the eternal one of death was the physicality of one and the nonexistence of the other, though he finally realized it as he was suddenly able to see the black window of death around him, just as a clump of white entered his vision.

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49 Reviews

Points: 7727
Reviews: 49

Sun Apr 26, 2020 2:27 am
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Liminality wrote a review...

I liked the narrative voice and mood of this piece, with its focus on a 'horror too horrible to contemplate'. It feels a bit Lovecraftian to me, but also created a lot of personal investment for me in Albert's story, which you don't always see in horror.

1. The variation in sentence lengths keeps the long paragraphs fresh, so I enjoyed how you used that technique to create the ebb and flow of suspense in your piece. I also thought the complex sentence constructions matched that sense of maddening horror Albert experiences in the story.
2. Speaking of Albert, I found I sympathised with his fear a lot. My favourite moment for this was him running out of the doctor's office with the drug. It really conveys his desperation to escape the mongrel man. You do a lot of 'showing not telling', even with the presence of introspection in this story, such as in how Albert has gone so far as to keep a gun to fight off the dream monster. This makes for vivid characterisation.
3. There were some transitions between scenes and settings I found just a tad awkward, for instance the part where he goes from yelling at the mother on the street to "The walls in the courtyard . . . ". I thought a bit more prose between these two parts, maybe showing him being taken away to a ward, could have made the flow smoother.
4. I did like the transition to the ending paragraph. The line "Albert Douglas didn’t know he was dead, and that was perhaps the best of all." where you seem to move outside his perspective evokes that sense of smallness in terms of his character that makes the terror of the creature loom even larger (which again reminds me a bit of Lovecraftian horror).
5. Maybe the ending could have been shorter? Generally, I think that short punchy endings work well when a story ends with a cliffhanger, and while I enjoyed the rumination on 'nothingness' in the final paragraph on its own, I felt the end would have had more impact had it been a little pithier, more concise.

Overall, though, I found this an effective horror piece with a distinctive style. There's a sort of awe I had contemplating the idea of the 'mongrel man' that never leaves Albert alone and seems so omnipotent and omnipresent in his life. I think that's a really great concept of a horror monster, and the sense of terror you manage to evoke even in short prose is really impressive.

Keep it up!

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44 Reviews

Points: 115
Reviews: 44

Sun Apr 26, 2020 1:58 am
HGsomeone wrote a review...

Ahoy hoy,

Though I’m not a person who usually reads horror I did find this little story of yours very interesting though I must admit in some parts of it it was a tad confusing but I’ll cover all that in my review. So, with out further ado, here are some general comments;

1. This has been mentioned before so I won’t dwell on it for very long, but it is the size of your paragraphs. To the casual reader, they look quite imposing, thus meaning they are likely to read the whole thing. But this is a simple fix and I doubt you’d need any help with it.

2. I was a bit confused by the exact context for the very beginning of story. I assume he’s asleep and going through some form of sleep paralysis but then when you describing how frozen your character is you start to contradict yourself. This sentence is a good example of this;

“But as soon as that thought ran through his nonexistent head the black abyss gained a harsh solidity as his knees were suddenly forced onto a cold, slimy floor.”

In this instance, the first part of the sentence tells the reader that he doesn’t exactly have a body in his dream like state but then out of nowhere he has some knees. Upon rereading the sentence, I think I can kind of understand what you were trying to achieve with the shift of the character feeling numb to them suddenly having a body and interacting with their environment. Alas, this might just be me, but it took a while before I realised this.
The main thing that I got confused about, however, was that during the whole paragraph I wasn’t sure if the character had a solid body or if in the dream he was more of just a consciousness, but that’s it. Once the monster came out it became more clear that he had some sort of body that he couldn’t move and so forth.
Sorry if none of that helped...

3. The characters name changes halfway through from Arnold to Albert. I understand that this probably hasn’t b en fully edited yet but I thought I might just point it out.
A second thing with names to help perhaps with a little clarity is that whilst talking with the doctor you have this sentence;

“‘Hmm,’ Dr. Volkert said, obviously not seeing it with the same impact Douglas did.”

Douglas is the characters last name so this is understandable but as you’ve primarily used his first name for the entirety of the piece it just seems a bit out of place.

4. Some of the transitions between times and settings were a bit sudden and it took a while for me to fully catch on with some of them. These cases are mainly between when he leaves the doctor and is suddenly in bed again and it’s time to go to sleep, and his sudden move to what I assume is an asylum after jumping out the window.
Just a linking sentence or to though would easily fix this and make it more clear the change in settings.

That’s it, and now I feel horrible for only pointing out negatives. So here’s a couple of positives!

First, your descriptions and the language you use throughout is top notch and I can easily visualise the appearance of your truly frightening, monster. In a couple of places the grammar could do with a little looking over but grammar. Is. Weird. I’m not a big fan of it.

And second, I felt genuine sympathy for Arnold/Albert and I could understand the situation he was in and the bone chilling fear he felt. The last paragraph in particular really drove it home and the line about the difference between dreams and death was definitely on of my favourites.

So, all in all, a good story and I hope you keep on writing!
Sorry if my review was no help at all, I’m bad at explaining stuff.

- H.G

Thanks, I didn't even notice that I changed his name accidentally. I usually make changes on the original document I have rather than on the copy in yws, just in case your wondering why I haven't edited this version.

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26 Reviews

Points: 3388
Reviews: 26

Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:27 am
mckaylaam wrote a review...

Hi there, what an interesting short story and unique take on sleep paralysis! There are a few things I think you could work on, but overall I enjoyed your work. One major thing that instantly pops out and that I think you should really consider is breaking up the text into smaller paragraphs, like Alfonso22 mentioned in their comment. It would make the text easier to read, in my opinion, and keep the reader's attention better.

Besides the text being broken up into smaller paragraphs, I think another thing that you could work on is rewording some of the sentences and just cleaning up some typos. Sentences that I think could be improved are:

The dissipation of fear would only water-down the experience, something he’d come to know the void and thing stood against vehemently.

I would change this to say "The dissipation of fear would only water-down the experience, something he'd come to know that both the void and the thing stood against vehemently."

The hump of white in front of him was horrendous, veiled head-to-toe in dying pale-white skin with the creaks and cracks old rotting limbs echoing throughout the void.

I would recommend writing "...pale-white skin with the creaks and cracks of old rotting limbs echoing throughout the void."

Despite its greyed rotting and sunken complexion, it looked like a white brighter than the moon when compared with the nightly realm.

Maybe change this to "... it looked like a shade of white, a shade brighter than the moon when compared to the nightly realm."

My favorite part of this story, though, had to be the last paragraph. The first sentence immediately grabbed my attention once again, and the following sentences were very thought-provoking.

Keep up the great work!

Thanks, I'll definitely make those changes.

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31 Reviews

Points: 2199
Reviews: 31

Sun Apr 05, 2020 1:50 am
Alfonso22 says...

Please break up those huge blocks of texts composed of thousands of letters into smaller paragraphs in order to make them readable. The first reaction when a reader sees them on the screen is to avoid the hassle.

Thanks. It is kind of imposing, I was planning to go in and fix that eventually.

Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.
— Maya Angelou