Sunday, 12 April 2015

Horror Bites #17: "The Xenonog"

Here's a slither of flash fiction for the Horror Bites Challenge.

For those who are unfamiliar with the challenge, it's simple. Anyone is invited to write a bite of flash fiction inspired by an image (below) supplied by Laura of Office Mango. All she asks is: "to write something dark and disturbing".

The Xenonog

By Mark Cassell
(340 words)

Usually, you don’t wake up.
        Sometimes if I’m careless, sometimes if I let my imagination run away from me, you’ll cough, you’ll choke wide awake, and the familiar surroundings of your bedroom squeeze in. Moonlight, pathetic. Heart, hammering. Eyes wide but shadows hang heavy, cloying. There is only darkness around you.
        And me. I’m there, I’m in your mouth, clinging to a molar or leaning against a tonsil as I whisper bad dreams into your sleeping mind. Or at least I was… Now you’re awake, I’ll slide off your tongue and clamber over your teeth. Before I leave and blend with the shadows, I’ll rub my wings against your gums; a minor infection so they bleed when it comes to your morning toothbrush ritual. You interrupted me, I’m pissed off, of course I’d do that. In fact, sometimes I’ll do it anyway.
        Now you’re awake, you cannot sleep and so remain staring at the digits of a bedside clock as you count every negative aspect of your life, you’ll dwell on anything and everything you hate about yourself and everyone else. Your life tumbles through your head in a miasma of pessimistic, defeatist gloom.
        I am the Xenonog. I exist only for your troubling dreams. I’m not talking about nightmares; that’s cliché, that’s Hollywood bullshit. I’m talking about those dreams that stain your waking mind throughout the following day. Subtle strands of hopelessness, thoughts you cannot put your finger on. Yes, that’s your human saying. The other ridiculous saying of yours is when someone “Gets up on the wrong side of the bed”. Everything you say is shit, and that’s what I’m for. I put the shit into your day.
        How else do you think your mind works? It’s nothing to do with you. Don’t flatter yourself you egotistical twat. It’s me. All me.
        While you sleep, I ooze between your teeth. My body like liquid, bitter on your tongue. And yes, that’s why your breath stinks in the morning.
        Usually, you don’t wake up.


Mark Cassell's dark fantasy novel is available
from all bookshops and also Amazon.


Author photo (c)Christopher Shoebridge
Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK with his wife and a number of animals. He often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, fantasy, and SF stories have featured in several anthologies and ezines.

His debut novel, The Shadow Fabric, is a supernatural story and is available from Amazon.

Twitter: @Mark_Cassell Facebook:


  1. This is awesomely creepy. Great job

    1. Thanks, Laura. Always a pleasure to entertain you. :-)

  2. Really like that a lot. Gets into your mind. Very Clive Barker-esk.

    1. My work being compared with Barker's? I love that. Thanks, Miranda. :-D