Don't Eat My Face! (Complete Story)

While I get my next book ready, I'm reprinting stories here in their entirety -- for FREE! Here's a story that first appeared in the Harvest Hill anthology, available from Graveside Tales.

(You can get my first collection of short horror stories, The Scariest Things, You CAN'T Imagine on the Kindle or in hard copy through Lulu.)

Don't want to read online? Download it here for free off Scribd & take it with you!



My face

A short story by Briane f. pagel, jr.

It would have been nice to have an excuse for how he ended up there.

It would have been better, he felt, as he hung there upside down, to be able to curse himself. To say Why was I going so fast? Or Why did I have that last drink? Or even Maybe I should have just pulled over and napped for a while.

Any of those would have helped him deal with this, he felt, because he could have placed some blame for this, or felt that what was going on was punishment for his stupidity or cruelty.

Maybe it would have been enough if he had been coming from someplace wrong, or going to someplace wrong. Why didn’t I end the affair earlier, he could have berated himself, as his head felt like it would explode from the blood slowly pooling in it. Why was I going off to buy drugs he could moan silently, quietly, while he tried to swallow and wet his throat but could not do so because as it turns out, gravity plays quite an important role in swallowing, or plays an important role in preventing one from swallowing when one is hanging upside down in a twisted car wreck, held in place and pinned back by a seatbelt that has locked, with one’s right arm pinned awkwardly and probably broken, certainly numb, and long past the part of numbness or injury where it hurt, having gone through the flaring searing bolts-of-agony-shooting through one’s mind hours (days? Certainly not days? Days?) earlier.

Was it days?

He squinted in the dark. He watched where he knew the cellphone was, on the ceiling of the car, to his right. If his right arm was free, had movement and was free, he could have picked up the cellphone and called. It was laying on its side, in the dark, and unless someone called and caused the panel to light up, he would not see the time and date display that would tell him whether it was hours or days that he’d hung here.

If it was days, they probably would have eaten him by now.

But he had not been at fault. He was not coming from a whorehouse, or even a night so late at work that his wife and children would be honestly and justifiably irate. He was not heading to or from any place where he’d used illicit drugs. He was not engaged in any pursuit more dangerous or unwholesome than his trip to the grocery store to get some milk, and, as it turned out, some doughnuts. They’d been out of milk, and it had been just past seven, and Jana had asked if he would mind going to get some milk, and he’d said of course not, and he’d driven to the store to get the milk, and had decided to get some doughnuts as well, a treat for the girls when they woke up in the morning. He’d even picked out a selection so that no matter what their tastes had become – 11 and 13 year-olds who overnight could develop an aversion to powdered sugar or jelly or to a doughnut without both – they could have gotten a doughnut they liked in the morning.

That was it, of course! It wasn’t days after all, it wasn’t even hours, it was probably not long at all because Jana would have missed him and notified someone and they were looking for him and they’d find him on this road because even though not many people lived down it, this road was the most likely way to take to the most likely grocery store to go to and so they’d find him because they’d see the wreck, he must be hallucinating or disoriented from the blood in his head, maybe he hit his head in the accident, maybe it was all just some sort of nightmare.

The cellphone buzzed. It was on vibrate, he always left it on vibrate so that it did not annoy people if he were to forget to turn it off in movies or restaurants. The cellphone buzzed and he spun his head to look at it, winced and his vision blurred. Hanging upside down meant that blood was not getting to the rest of his body, it was slowly filling up the inside of his head, draining from his feet and legs and hands and chest down to his head where his heart could not muster enough pressure to push it back out. His head was filling with blood that had no oxygen in it, and the new blood joining it with oxygen was quickly depleted and made the situation worse. When he turned his head so rapidly, it hurt. It more than hurt. It pummeled his mind. But he turned to look at the cellphone, which had rung – buzzed – at least four times before. It was buzzing and slowly turning on its axis.

As his vision cleared he realized that he could see the panel that would show time and date, but it showed now the number that was calling. Home. Jana was calling him.

“Jana,” he croaked. It was all he could do. The cellphone buzzed more, its panel slowly turning. The light it cast was bright, a miniature spotlight aiming out from the silver flipphone. As it buzzed again, it spun a little more, and the light silhouetted something.

He turned his head to see what was outlined in the light, but too quickly and his vision blurred again. All he saw was all he’d seen so far. It looked like a foot-tall silhouette of a manlike creature, standing there. It was pitchblack, had arms and legs and a body and a head but he could not make out detail, could never make out detail. It stood on the ceiling of the car that rested on the ground.

And it smiled at him and he saw sharp pointy white teeth as his vision cleared. Then the light from the cellphone shut off and he could not see the thing or the teeth or whether it had friends and he clenched his eyes shut.

With his eyes clenched shut, he sat there, willing the phone to ring again. He wrenched his body back and forth, back and forth, trying to wriggle free of the seatbelt that trapped him, trying to pull his dead right arm out of the restraint, to reach the cellphone. He pulled his left arm up lugubriously, slowly, because it felt like it was asleep. He put his hand over his face.

His hand was not, of course, big enough to cover his face. He spread his fingers out, splayed them, kept his eyes shut. He knew what it would do.

Then he felt it. On his right eyelid. Hot breath, something panting in front of his right eye.

It had been doing that for hours. Days? Hours, at least, maybe days. He suddenly realized that had he not been distracted by the thing in the light of the phone, then he would have just before the light went off seen the date and time and known how long he had been hanging here, but was drawn back to this moment by the hot breath on his eyelid.

“Don’t touch me,” he said. “Please.”

No answer. It had not yet answered. But it went away again. Maybe it could not answer.

What had gone wrong, if he had not been on an illicit errand, or acting recklessly, or being moronic? He’d been driving along, he’d had his seatbelt on, he had the radio off and was not even distracted by that. The headlights worked. The tires were relatively new. He drove out along the road that led from their relatively new subdivision out in the farms outside the city, had gone to the little urban-center mall that had a grocery store there, the grocery store that was somewhat more expensive than the big warehouse store 10 minutes further, but 10 minutes one way meant 20 extra total for the trip, and the savings on milk was minimal, so 20 minutes to save thirty cents? And he’d told himself that the newer, more upscale grocery store had the in-store bakery and he could get doughnuts as a surprise for the girls. They really were not even for him. He didn’t like doughnuts. He preferred muffins, had thought about buying some, had decided not to do so because he already was getting milk and doughnuts and did not want to spend too much, maybe feeling guilty about spending the extra money at the upscale store instead of driving twenty minutes more to spend less, was that the sin that had landed him in this predicament, greed, or conspicuous consumption?

The milk had been put in the back seat, on the floor, behind the driver’s seat. He did not know where it was now. The doughnuts had been on the passenger seat next to him, in the bakery box, and he could guess what had happened to them because there was jelly and sugar on the dashboard and he thought, when he craned his neck, that he could see them on the ceiling of the car off and behind to his right.

He didn’t like doughnuts, but he would have eaten the whole box now. He also wanted something to drink. He did not know how he’d drink it, upside down, but he wished he could have something to drink. He was terribly thirsty. Hours-later thirsty or days-later thirsty he wondered and then tried to put that thought out of his mind, it was not helpful, not now, but maybe it was because if he knew if it was hours or days then he would know whether he should expect help soon or whether there was no help coming.

Because if it was days, there was no help coming.

Take inventory. That might help him. He could catalog things that helped mark the passage of time. He thought for a second.

Was it lighter out? No. He had seen no evidence that it was darker or lighter out. It was late fall, so the sun had been down and it had been night when he left. What were the odds that he had blacked out or slept through an entire night and day or more, so that he’d woken again only at night? Not much chance of that, he thought.

And he felt that he had not been there long because his head had only recently begun pounding. If he’d been there a day, or two, or more – how had two or more days become an option he wondered—wouldn’t all the blood have already rushed to his head? He thought he’d read, once, that you couldn’t hang upside down for an entire day because your leg muscles can pump blood back up to your heart but your arms and shoulders and head can’t, so the blood doesn’t circulate when you’re upside down…

He moved on.

He was thirsty, but not dehydrated yet, right? A person dies of thirst in two or three or four days…

He moved on.

He did not have to urinate. He’d eaten and drank a regular amount of food and water the day of the accident. Surely if it had been more than a few hours, he would have a full bladder, at least. Would hanging upside down help that? He suddenly panicked and wondered if he was paralyzed, and wiggled his feet. He could not see them, up above his head, but he felt his foot tap the floor of the car putt putt putt that faced the ceiling, felt that, he was sure.

How many times had it come? He wasn’t sure. He had only become aware of it gradually, a scurrying at the edge of his vision, a flitter here and a poke there. Then it had touched his head, and he hadn’t been sure what that had been, had turned towards it and not seen anything at first. It had become more bold as time passed, coming closer, letting him see it, just barely, against the ambient light that seeped in the car, some of which he thought was reflecting from a headlight of the car.

At first, he’d thought it was a squirrel or bird or mouse. Then he’d worried that it was a rat or raccoon, but it did not sound large enough. Then he’d felt it poking him. Then he’d seen it.

A few times it had approached him, and he thought he was hallucinating, and it had breathed on him while he tried to focus his eyes, which grew swimmy and runny when he tried to move to quickly.

Thinking about it scared him. He did not know what it was, but knew that the thing had not tried to help him.

He looked at the phone again. Had it vibrated closer?

He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and readied himself. Then he did what he’d tried a few times before.

First, he reached with his left hand, as far as he could, towards the cell phone. Why hadn’t he kept it in his pants pocket? He wondered. He took it out in the car because it was always on vibrate, and he missed calls by leaving it in his pocket in the car. It didn’t rest against his leg in the pocket while he sat. So he set it on the console between seats. And now it was two inches away from his left hand. Just two inches… just two inches.

He reached and stretched, squinting and gasping as he strained against the seatbelt. He reached further, trying to figure out how to brace himself or twist to give himself the extra two inches, the phone just out of his reach.

He almost had it when he saw the thing. Standing just on the other side of the phone. It stood on two legs. It was silhouetted in the dark, of course, just like each time. He wondered if it was pitchblack like that or if it was the lighting. How could a thing have no features? It was like a human-shaped inkblot. Its arms hung down to where its knees would be, almost, and its legs appeared to be made of one long limb, no knee. It had a head that was too small and weirdly shaped. He reached for the phone, and thrust his chest forward frantically as he realized why it was standing there.

It smiled.

It smiled its white-tooth smile, and his two smallest fingers splayed apart, leaving the other two pointing towards the phone, as though by spreading his hand farther apart he could lengthen the reach of those two. He leaned more, and his right arm pinched harder and he gasped with pain, but he almost had it and then the thing pulled the phone an inch further away.

He stopped and stared in shock. It had pulled the phone – but just far enough that he could conceivably still reach it. It was taunting him.

It still smiled.

He lunged forward again, trying to grasp the phone, arm across his body, and at his farthest reach, felt something thin and white-hot touch him and pulled his hand back and saw that his index finger and middle finger were missing the portion beyond the last joint and were bleeding profusely. He screamed then, as the pain hit him. It had bitten him so fast and so cleanly that his hand had pulled back before the agony hit his brain. He watched the blood spurt out of them, and jammed the severed finger tips against his shirt to try to staunch the blood flow. His howl died down hoarsely.

Through eyes gummed with tears and pain, he saw the thing step over the phone and over the two fingertips it had bitten off onto the ceiling of the car, and walk closer. He closed his eyes. He felt its breath on his face but he could not move his left hand because he did not want to bleed to death.

Its breath stopped and he opened his eyes. It was gone. His hand hurt. He pressed the fingers harder into his chest and thought. He could still see the phone. He thought about what he was wearing.

His left sleeve. It was slightly torn. He was wearing an old Bears sweatshirt, with a frayed cuff on the left sleeve. He pulled his hand away, felt the blood flow, and pushed it back against his chest again. Slowly, he dragged his hand up his chest until it passed his shoulders and he was pressing his pulled-up sweatshirt against his neck, still feeling the blood seep into the fabric but slowly. He bent his wrist, caught the cuff in his mouth, and worked it until he could grip the cuff firmly in his teeth. When he had it as tightly as he could, he yanked his hand back, quickly, and heard a tearing sound. The cuff came free, a shred of sweatshirt pulling off and hanging from his mouth. His hand felt like it was filled with fire, and he could feel his pulse coursing through his forearm and shooting blood out the two fingertips. Gritting his teeth against the pain, he brought his hand up, blood pumping onto his face briefly, and grasped the end of the torn cuff in between his two middle fingers. He wound it around the two fingers as tightly as he could. Lacking any way to tie a knot, he just clenched the fingers together to hold the fabric twist that way, and was relieved to see the blood stop pumping out. His fingers began to numb almost instantly. But he was not losing blood anymore.

He looked at the phone again.

If Jana was still calling, it could not have been too long, right? Just long enough to worry her.

“Jana,” he mumbled.

He tried to swallow and could not and looked at the phone.

It buzzed and began to vibrate again. He watched it. The first buzz. It would ring 4 times before going to voice mail. When the thing had pulled it, it had turned the phone so he could not see the screen that showed time and date or the phone number. Instead, the phone was pointed away from him and sent a flare of blue light out and in that blue light he saw the thing standing on the ceiling of the car back by the windshield.

The phone buzzed a second time. The thing watched it, he thought, but he could not see eyes or features. Just smooth black skin or hide. It was a three-dimensional shadows.

The phone buzzed a third time. He kept his hand pressed against his chest, clutching the fabric that kept his blood in, and tried to gauge his move, watch the thing. As the third buzz ended, without even taking a breath, he shot his wounded hand out and twisted his body, pain arcing through his right side and a flaring spot of red incendiary pain blooming behind his eyes, but he tried to ignore that and threw himself as well as he could towards the phone and grabbed it, he grabbed it and flipped it open and yelled “JANA!”

And it was on him, it rushed at him and was biting his hand and grabbing the phone and pulling it away and he screamed as the feeling of the bite sunk in, and he felt new bleeding start, plus his hand opened up and the sweatshirt cuff fell away and his fingers throbbed into horrifying feeling as blood pumped through them.

The phone lay between him and it, then, the thing backing off, the phone still flipped open, his hand bleeding and torn and blood flowing out, and he stopped screaming as he realized that it was still open. In the light the phone cast, he saw the thing, standing back on the other side of the phone.

He stared at it, standing stock still, and he would have thought it was staring at him but it did not have eyes he could see.

In the light of the phone, in that second, he saw its head move or rotate, and the thought chewing fluttered into his mind. Chewing me.

In that second or two, he also realized that it did not know what the phone was or how it worked. He realized that because it jumped back when a voice, Jana’s voice came through the phone.

“Steven?” she asked. “Steve?”

It was another heartbeat while he looked at it and then the phone and it looked at the phone and then it rushed forward towards him and he yelled as fast as he could and as loud as he could “Jana I’ve been in an accident and they’re after me and help Jana God I love you” and that last part seemed important to say because it had grabbed the phone and ran, and he lunged for the phone again, tried to grab it or the phone because Jana was talking on the phone and he yelled and screamed nothing coherent and thrashed, his right arm still twistingly pinned on his side and firing bolts of pain through him and he heard the phone clatter against the glass of the window and heard again:

“Steven? What’s going on?” and when Jana said that he howled again and said

“Help me send help” and then thought he’d heard Jana say are you okay but it was all quiet and dark and it was gone again and had taken the phone.

He sat there, upside down, panting, and feeling blood spurt from his hand, the pain of the bites and missing fingertips. He wondered where it had gone, and whether the phone was gone out of the car or just out of his sight. He wondered if it would know to close it.

“Jana! Jana if you can hear me I was coming from the grocery store and there was an accident and I need help! Send help!” He yelled that several times until his voice gave out and he had to rest.

In the silence, he heard his pulse and his breathing and nothing else. He thought the phone was gone.

But she’d heard him. He didn’t know what she’d heard, but he knew she’d heard him. An accident, and them, and help, he was sure he’d gotten those points across and she’d be calling 911 right now, telling them where he’d been headed and they’d send people out looking for him.

His whole right side felt like it was being torn apart. He could feel the blood flowing freely from his hand, but he was happy now, as happy as he could be. Someone was coming. Someone would be coming. All he had to do was hang in a little longer, ignore his spinning aching head and the numbness and pain and someone would come and the thing would be scared and not come back.

He suddenly jerked and looked around. It was too dark. He could not see anything. Had the headlight he thought was still burning gone out? Was it getting darker outside? The moon setting?

He just had to wait until someone came. What would it be, 20 minutes, tops?

Twenty minutes, tops. That’s all he had to wait.

He kept trying to look around, see if the thing was coming back, as he tried to figure out how to count down the time. Twenty minutes was 1,200 seconds. Count to 1,200, slowly. That would keep his mind off of things.

He began.

One… two… three… four…

Something bit him on the left shoulder. He turned his head that way, stopped counting and turned and felt a jolt through his neck and shoulder as he did so and thought he felt movement or saw movement but it was so dark. There was no doubt, though, the thing had bitten him, through the sweatshirt, and gouged out a piece of flesh. He heard the blood drip just above his head, falling onto the ceiling of the car.

Twenty minutes. He could hold on until then.

Five… six… seven…and he heard something. He opened his eyes as wide as he could. What did he hear? He could not see anything.

He felt warmth near his cheek and did not dare turn his head, both because it hurt to do so and because he did not want to touch the thing.

He listened.

It was sniffing.

It was sniffing him.

He sat still. In his mind he picked up again. Eight… nine… ten…The sniffing continued but it moved a little. Then he felt a poke on his right shoulder, felt the pain claw through the dull dense numbness that had set in there. Eleven… twelve… thirteen… and it bit him. It sunk its teeth into him and pulled and tore the sweatshirt and flesh off and then having done that, he could feel the skin torn, it lapped at the bloody pulp underneath.

It lapped at his blood and skin and then tore off the rest of the skin and he could not hear it anymore.

He tried to swallow. He couldn’t. He started up his count. Fourteen… fifteen… sixteen.

He heard movement. He heard steps, little skittering steps. They were going back and forth in front of him. Steps to the right. Then back to the left, then to the right. Never going as far as they could.

He thought it sounded like someone pacing. Then he saw. There was light coming in, and he saw. There was the thing, in front of him, about a foot in front of him. It stood in front of him, silhouetted by the light, and beckoned to its side. It waved its arm. In its other arm, it held something. He watched as it carried its bundle a little to his right, and held it up. Then it moved back left. That was the sound he’d heard, this lone figure pacing with its parcel.

The light grew closer, and he realized that there was light and wanted to see where it was coming from but as it grew closer he saw the thing open its mouth, those white white teeth all pointy, and saw it hold its bundle up and realized it was holding his skin, and saw it tear off a piece and eat it, and then beckon again.

He looked to his right, then, not to see the light but to see what it was calling to. He did see the light, though, it was his cellphone, still open, and he heard Jana’s voice.

“… if you can hear me, I’ve called someone on my cellphone, I don’t want to hang up, listen to me Steven just keep listening, someone’s on their way I’ve called 911…”

and Jana kept talking but Steven did not hear her for a moment because the phone was set down and more things began walking past it, one two three ten twenty more and more and more until they almost completely blocked out the light from the phone and he was facing a crowd of them, dozens, maybe, budging in and jostling and elbowing each other and the one that had beckoned them in was in front of them. He still could not make out any detail, but he saw the one beckoning hold up the piece of his skin again and tear off another piece and gesture with it.

Gesturing towards him with it. It waved the skin at him, at them, at him again, and then ate another bite.

In the background, he heard Jana talking still, trying to keep it going somehow, to maintain contact with him from home:

“… just try to take deep breaths they said that they’d send a bunch of people looking for you so it won’t be very long now and I love you Steven and the girls love you and it’ll all be fine…”

He watched as the front thing took a final bite and waved the piece of his flesh over its head. Jana’s voice went on but his throat went dry before he could try to respond to her. He was glad, then, that he’d said earlier that he loved her because as Jana’s voice continued coming from the phone, he saw mouth after mouth after mouth open up, smile, all those white white teeth opened up and pointed at him and moved forward as they understood what the beckoning one had shown them.

The Window (Complete Story)

A rock thrown through a window in an abandoned shed let something out... something that's beyond the ability of one young boy to cope with.

Click here to read

The Window

(complete story) for free.

Here's an excerpt:

The shed was not even used anymore. Dan and Jared were not sure when it had ever been used.

They weren't supposed to go near it.

"Rusty, rotten thing," Jared's mom called it. "Hunk of crap," Jared's dad called it.
Dan's parents did not talk about it much ever since Dan a year or two ago had
reported to Jared that his parents had suggested getting a petition to get Jared's
parents to get rid of it and Jared's parents had stopped talking to Dan's for two

The shed stood near the back of Jared's yard and had been there for as long as he
could remember, which at 12 was not that much in reality but was an infinite
amount of time as far as Jared was concerned. Jared's parents had not built the
shed, which was locked shut and had been for a long time because teenagers had
snuck in there, long ago, and used it to drink and do drugs, and Jared's parents
had been worried about that. Jared remembered that. It was about his earliest
memory of the shed.

He wondered then, and later, why his parents had locked the door but not
removed the shed.


Click here to read The Window for free.

Ghosts. There Are Ghosts. (Complete Story)

Father Wentley is surrounded by ghosts. They've come to his church, and they're trying to tell him something. What is it they want from him?

Here's the introduction: Click here to download this entire story on Scribd.


That’s what I said,” Father Albert Wentley said into the phone. “There are ghosts.”

There was a pause while he listened to the voice on the other end of the line. He looked at the door to his office. He looked at the window, shades drawn. He looked at the desk.

“Don’t tell me it sounds crazy. First of all, I know it sounds crazy. Second of all,why does it sound crazy? It shouldn’t. We believe in spirits, after all. We believe in souls. We believe in an afterlife, and ghosts are part of what comes… after… life.” He deliberately slowed down his words for the last part, emphasizing what comes next.

Another pause.

He looked at the pen that he tapped in his hand. He looked at the door again. He didn’t turn his eyes forward to look in front of his desk. “I know that it’s not traditional doctrine. But they are here.”

Pause. Looking around.

Then he spoke again: “I won’t go to a doctor.”


Read this and more on Scribd.

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