The Scratching

Warning: it’s a horror story. If you don’t like them or are squeamish to certain depictions better stay away).

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The Scratching
by Ricardo Victoria

The scratching started as a noise at night, perhaps caused by the blinds rubbing against the wall. It was a hot summer night, the breeze cooled the room but the noise was too much. I had to close it. The red moon shone and I could swear I saw a shadow prowling beneath the window. Ignoring it, I went back to my bed, expecting it to be the end of the matter.

How wrong I was.

The scratching continued even when the window was closed. Even when whole days had passed. And it escalated. I could hear it when I showered, when I talked to my wife, at work, everywhere, all the time. The ever-present scratching didn’t have an identifiable source or a way to make it stop.

And when I heard it, my head itched. It itched so bad that once I scratched my scalp so hard that I made myself bleed. My wife took me to the doctors, but their studies couldn’t find anything. And yet I heard it, even felt it inside my head. It became my torture, my obsession. The scratching was the only thing I could think of all the time. I had to get rid of it.

I researched endlessly, looking for its origin, starting with scientific causes and ending with urban legends on crackpot websites. They mentioned otherworldly creatures that preyed on our defects. At first, I discarded them as nonsense, but as my obsession grew, the sightings of the shadow increased.

I was going mad. After several months I simply disappeared, my obsession having consumed all my life. I left my wife. I couldn’t submit her to this torture. My craziness was hurting her. I started living in a dingy motel that was undergoing renovations, my sole companion my laptop, fueling my quest for answers.
Then one day I discovered the only noise able to soothe my troubled existence: the noise of a drill working through a wall. And that gave me an idea…

###

I can’t recall what else happened after that. I know I’m alone, but I can’t recall why. I can’t even remember my full name now. Not like it matters anymore. The scratching must end one way or another.

I find myself in the bathroom of my dilapidated room, holding a blood-soaked drill in my hand. Grit and blood covered the walls of the bathroom. Is that my blood? I can’t feel anything now, not even my face.

I’m in front of the mirror, my brain exposed and pulsating. A tall, thin creature with a pale face, shrouded in darkness, appeared behind me, its long fingers with pointy ends caressed my brain. With a bone-chilling voice, it says:
“Obsession is a delicacy.”

The creature takes a bite of my brain. And for the first time in a while, I feel a measure of relief.

(Soon to be featured at the Wicked Library podcast for the 2018 Halloween Special)

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