When the moth frenzy calls, there’s little to do but answer.
Franki’s sister Lina, always considered the good girl in the family, has mysteriously disappeared. But before she left, she was behaving out of character — something the locals refer to as the “moth frenzy.” Did Lina leave the reservation simply to escape what she believed to be a dead-end life? Or is her disappearance something far more sinister? Franki is bound and determined to find out. But at what cost?
Experience “Moth Frenzy” by Lucy Taylor
“Oh, help me! He has me!” Lina is panting and thrashing when I rush into her room, awakened by the creaking of bedsprings and the thump of her head striking the backboard each time she bounces her hips. Her eyes roll, her tongue flicks back and forth, and she yelps like a dog caught in barbed wire.
“Who is it?” I look around wildly, half-expecting an intruder to leap from the closet or the hallway.
“Oh God, he’s here!” She flings back the sheet. Her nightgown is twisted and bunched at her waist, and her knees are bent, exposing slick, maroon folds. I feel heat surge to my cheeks. For a moment, I consider waking up Mami, who snores contentedly in the other room, but I don’t want her to see Lina like this.
Her good daughter.
I cover her up and fetch my last bottle of Mad Dog, but she shoves it away in disgust. Her eyes blaze and her body shivers, like a doomed moth fluttering near the flames. “Alcohol won’t help! Don’t you understand? He has me! He’s inside me!”
“Don’t talk crazy. You’re having a nightmare,” I say, but I can’t stand to stay there and go out into the hall where, unnerved, I chug down the bottle in a few scalding gulps. The alcohol dulls my disgust. I tell myself what Lina says isn’t possible, that not even a skinwalker can rape a woman with sorcery.
Still, it takes all my courage to go back into her room.
She’s spent now, vacant-eyed and exhausted. In the dim light, I’m shocked by the jut of her cheekbones, which poke up defiantly, no longer obscured by the layers of fat that always softened her face. Her once plump, rounded belly is now a sunken, stretched bowl.
She whimpers, “No, don’t,” but her hand slides down as her buttocks lift off the bed and she begins a slow, grotesque grinding.
I crack her across the face, grab her shoulders and try to shake her out of the trance. Rage flares in her face. A surge of energy seethes from her skin into mine. Pain scalds my fingers, flenses my forearms and chews into my wrists. My skin blazes an ugly, flayed red, and for a moment, the wall I sag against is the only thing holding me up.
“Stop it! You’re dreaming,” I hiss, but I have no faith in my own words, and I don’t try to touch her again.
Unable to watch her contortions, I stare out the window, beyond the portal and the adobe wall, out where the gate to the courtyard blew off in a windstorm last winter and never got fixed. With nothing blocking the view, the desert unfurls like a black throat gobbling down an obscene spill of stars. Alongside the gap where the gate once stood now swarms an unnatural convergence of shadows. In places they are as thick as the beams supporting the portal, in others gauzy as mist. Something massive hunches there in brute stillness. My blood goes a degree or two colder.
The next morning I find Lina sprawled under a clump of piñons a half mile from the house, her nightgown ripped, her feet bloody. Gently I lead her home, bathe her and put her to bed.
“Who’s doing this? Tell me!”
She doesn’t answer, but her face glows with a terrible radiance, like she’s died and been reborn into some glorious hell. “I want him,” she whispers, without meeting my eyes.
I know then we’ve lost her. I know she’s bewitched.
More About PEEL BACK THE SKIN
Peel Back the Skin is a powerhouse new anthology of terror that strips away the human mask from the real monsters of our time–humankind. Featuring a star-studded cast of award-winning authors from the horror, dark fantasy, speculative fiction, transgressive, extreme horror and thriller genres, Peel Back the Skin is the next game-changing volume from Grey Matter Press.
Including all-new fiction from Jonathan Maberry, Ray Garton, Tim Lebbon, Graham Masterton, Yvonne Navarro, Ed Kurtz, Durand Sheng Welsh, James Lowder, Joe McKinney, Lucy Taylor, Charles Austin Muir, Erik Williams, Nancy A. Collins, John McCallum Swain and William Meikle.