Short horror story from Thailand, by Colin Devonshire.
A piercing scream cracked the bedroom mirror.
“Honey, what’s wrong?” asked Billy, panting, as his fingers searched for his wife’s hand.
Khmer expletives were yelled at him, none he understood. Breathing too fast, the young expectant mother regained her composure. Her chest lifted and fell gently in time with her oxygen intake.
“Where am I?” Nipa said as she looked around the bedroom.
“Babe, you are okay, we are at home, in bed, calm down. You are sweating. It must have been a nightmare,” said the shaken young husband.
He flicked the bedside lamp on.
“Christ, it is blood. What happened?” he asked.
“I, I, I can’t talk…” she coughed up more blood.
“Keep still. What is that?” he asked, pointing to a cord hanging from the corner of her mouth. She coughed again, this time spewing streams of red. The cord remained, as if stuck deep in her stomach. The visible end swung limply.
The girl bend double, head between her knees, made more difficult as the six-month-old lump was in the way.
“Let me look,” Billy said as he touched the blood-soaked shoelace. Like a boy tugging a worm from its muddy home.
Gently pulling, releasing its deep grip, it slid painfully up and out of her throat. Another stream of vomit soaked her husband.
“Got it!” he called, examining the item as a stamp collector sees a Penny Black.
Nipa rolled on her back and rubbed her unborn baby bump.
Billy held his prize to the light, “It looks like uncooked bacon rind, a huge one. What the hell have you been eating?”
At seven AM Billy left his wife to her troubled sleep in their Nong Bo Village, in northern Thailand. He went to check on their livestock. Clucking and grunts accompanied him. Passing the spiky bamboo fence surrounding their property, he wondered, “Why have we got such an ugly and useless fence?”
He quickened his pace to the chicken hut. Sensing something was wrong, he sprinted.
“Oh no,” he wailed.
His prize cockerel gutted open, spread and pinned on the fence post. The beautiful comb gone, along with the rest of the head.
“I loved that bird,” he cried.
The usual pleasure of Billy’s morning ritual, his early inspection of their farm, drinking a mug of Nescafe, relaxing before easing into the day’s work, ruined. He often daydreamed about the night he met the love of his life. Three years before, he had fallen head over heels with a gorgeous and vivacious nightclub hostess; they dated for the rest of his holiday, then returning to England, they enjoyed a long-distance romance; he proposed via Skype; she left the club; they married at her father’s farm. Billy bought a farm nearby. They settled and began married life together. She became pregnant. What could be better?
“How are you feeling?” Billy asked his wife, as she slumped next to him at the table, shattered. Her coffee skin was milky, the night had drained her colour.
“Yeah, a bit sleepy, at least baby slept well,” Nipa answered as she prepared rice soup for breakfast.
“Hold the breakfast, I think we should go to the doctor? We have an appointment, we don’t want to be late.”
“I need to eat, I am starving,” she said, dipping sticky rice into last night’s curry.
“Do you want to know the baby’s sex yet?” Billy asked, excited to find out.
“It’s a boy,” she answered bluntly.
Billy, puzzled by her answer, decided not to question her. That could wait. He also wanted to find out more about his and their neighbour’s fences. That too could wait. His wife’s breakfast could not. He waited in front of his laptop.
“Come on, Wi-Fi, don’t let me down,” he said. Their connection was rarely reliable.
He checked Google.
“Krasue fears spikes as they get their entrails tangled!” My God, now I’ve heard it all,” he chuckled, not understanding the text.
Once more, he ducked the chance to query things.
“That can wait,” he said to himself.
“Good morning, have you come for your check-up?” asked the doctor’s receptionist.
“Yes, we need to ask him something else as well,” said Nipa.
“Your appointment’s booked for a scan and consultation, is that correct?”
“I know, but we need to see him about something else too, if possible?”
The receptionist showed them in.
“Hello, no problem with junior I trust?” said the doctor.
As they explained what had happened the night before, the doctor looked increasingly worried. Changing the subject, he stated, “The baby’s heartbeat is strong, the scan is fine. You have nothing to worry about regarding the baby. I can see if it is a boy or girl, do you want to see?”
“It is a boy,” said Nipa.
“Yes, how are you so sure,” he asked.
Nipa just smiled.
Billy asked, “What about the blood last night?”
“I can’t see where it came from. No cuts in her mouth or throat. Any stomach pain?”
“None, doc,” answered Nipa.
“I don’t suppose you kept any of the blood, or the curious thread?” asked the doctor.
“No, we cleaned up and threw away the other thing,” answered Billy.
“I’ll run some tests, roll up your sleeve, please,” the doctor said.
“Fantastic, a son,” said Billy as they walked back to their truck.
“Yes,” said an unsmiling Nipa.
Billy studied her blank face, riveted straight ahead. He decided not to ask what was worrying her. They bumped along the track to their home.
“Hungry?” she asked solemnly.
“What is the problem? I thought you would be happy, you haven’t even phoned your dad to tell him.”
“You couldn’t understand,” she stormed inside, leaving her husband to check the remaining chickens.
“Your lunch is on the table, I’m going for a nap,” she called from the stairs.
Billy was used to the fiery, sometimes weird North-Eastern food, but they had never served him live maggots.
“What the hell is this?”
Insulted, he stormed up the stairs.
“Don’t pretend you are asleep, you’ve only just got into bed,” he said as he shook her.
Her eyes opened wide, staring sightlessly. The baby bulge moved, rocking from side to side.
Shocked, he forgot his anger.
“What’s the matter?” he yelled, placing the back of his hand on her forehead. “Christ, you are burning up.”
He patted his pockets, “Where is it?” panicked he hunted for his phone.
“Did you enjoy your lunch?” she asked brightly.
Her calmness stunned him for a minute before he could speak.
“Are you sure you are okay?” he asked again, feeling her temperature.
“Yeah, I’m fine. How long did I sleep for? Better get on.”
She leapt from the bed and sauntered downstairs.
“Oh, you haven’t touched your ‘larb’?”
Larb was one of her dishes he loved.
“No, it was…” he looked over her shoulder at his lunch.
“I thought you like the way I prepare that dish?”
“I do, but it had… Never mind.”
Not seeing any maggots, he played with the dish before pushing it to one side.
“The chicks were fine, I’ll check on the pigs now,” he said, hopping out the back door.
“You wanted to know about our fences?” she asked.
“Yes, true, but how did you know?”
“If you don’t like them, rip them down,” she said.
He sensed something was wrong. The pigs were unusually quiet. He quickened his pace. Speechless, as he approached the mess nailed to the gatepost, once a boar, now a blood coated carcass of rotten and stinking pork. Flies buzzed in a cloud. The prized father of dozens of piglets pinned on its back, slit from throat to the anus. The guts missing from the fetid bulk.
“Call the police, somebody has killed Arsene, our boar!”
“Don’t worry, dear, these things happen,” she said, beaming.
That evening, eating on their patio, Billy decided the time was right to get some answers.
“You seem different. Have I upset you?” he asked.
“No dear, you are perfect.”
“Is something wrong with the baby?”
“No dear, everything is fine,” answered Nipa.
“Did you mean what you said about the fence?”
She turned glaring, red in the face, “Yes, get rid of the damn thing.”
“Um, okay,” he stammered.
Instantly her mood changed, “Would you like some mango?” she asked sweetly.
The next morning, Billy set about ripping down the ugly, pointless fence he hated, pointless, as it does no useful purpose, but not pointless, as it offers nothing but points. He chuckled to himself, losing concentration.
“Shit, shit, shit!” screamed Billy as thorns embedded in his thigh.
Limping back to the house, Nipa hid her mouth as she beamed.
“Oh, darling, what has happened?” she asked.
“It is pretty obvious, isn’t it?”
She sat him down, gently pulling the points from his leg.
“Steady, that hurts,” wailed Billy.
She smiled, putting splinters aside. She sucked on the wound, loudly, like a child with her first lolly.
“What the hell are you doing?” asked Billy.
Between slurps, she answered, “Traditional Thai healing,” she licked her lips.
A battered Honda motorcycle rumbled up to the house. An aging man jumped off, fuming.
“Now, what are you doing? First, you marry a foreigner, now you’re removing protection for the entire village,” bellowed Nipa’s ageing father in the Khmer language.
He threw his half-smoked roll-up cigarette to the ground, “Get it fixed!”
“What did your dad want?” asked Billy. “He didn’t seem happy, did you tell him it’s a boy?”
“He was checking how the baby is, and delighted the family has another male,” she lied sweetly.
The sun dipped below the horizon. Billy limped as he lit a fire and burnt the fence remains with some dried leaves he had swept up. Nipa took a mug of coffee out to him.
“Thanks, babe. Can you see the lights near our entrance?”
“Yes, it is my father and other villagers.”
“How can you see them, I only see movement and dull lights?”
“I’ve been eating my carrots,” she laughed.
“What do they want, why don’t they come in?”
“I’ll find out,” she said as she started walking the long driveway.
Billy went back to his raking. A car’s horn sounded as a vehicle turned into their entrance. It stopped near the fire but kept the engine running.
“Oh, it’s you, doc. Any problem?” asked Billy.
“The villagers have been calling me, they want me to talk with you about your fence.”
“Yes, they worry there is a Krasue nearby,” said the doctor.
“A what? I thought that was a joke.”
“Where shall I start?” queried the doctor.
“Do you want to come in, have a drink?” asked Billy.
“Oh no, thanks. I won’t be long.”
“Okay, tell me.”
“There is a belief around these parts, not only here but also in Lao, Cambodia, throughout Thailand and down into Malaysia. Usually, but not always, a female spirit leaves her body and searches for another place to live. She or it, needs blood, rotting flesh or intestines to survive on,” said the doctor rushing his words.
“I read something on the web. You mean like a vampire?”
“But vampires are good looking,” he chuckled more confidently. “A Krasue is just head and entrails, it floats around farms and scrubland.”
“You have to be joking? How can an intelligent man like yourself believe that tosh?” asked Billy.
“I didn’t say I believe it, but all these folk does. They want you to replace the spiked fence.”
“Is that what all the fuss is about? Okay, I can make another.”
“Great, that’s all I wanted to hear,” the doctor stammered.
“Come in and have a beer, I’d love to find out more.”
“No, no thanks, I must go.”
The doctor dropped his phone as he clambered into his car. Driving away too fast, he clipped the hedge as he skidded past the villagers.
“I’ll return his mobile tomorrow,” Billy thought. “What was the rush?”
“Is your dad coming in?” Billy asked as his wife returned.
“No, they all have a few bottles of home-brew waiting. Talking of which, do you want a cold one?”
“Yes, join me on the patio. Let’s talk about baby names.”
“Yeah, okay, do you have any ideas?”
“Not really, there are a couple of male names that keep cropping up in my family, but they are old-fashioned. Why not have a Thai name?”
“Why not have both?” she said.
She placed a second beer in front of him, smiling and cool.
“Oh, I forgot to tell you, I was talking to the doctor, and agreed to replace the fence.”
She spilled the beer, no longer calm, Nipa went to bed without a word.
Billy lifted the bottle and drained the remains. Sitting alone, he thought about his day, life, and the future.
Creeping up the stairs, he peered in at his sleeping wife. Sliding under the sheet next to her, he turned to his side. Sleep would not come. Tossing and twitching he lay on his back sweating. Moonlight illuminated the room.
He sensed a breath on his face.
Opening his eyes he stammered, “What… How…”
His ashen wife floated inches above him. Pointed teeth opened, “Shh…”
He fell to the floor, banging his head against a cupboard.
“Quiet, I’m trying to sleep,” said Nipa.
Billy sat up, rubbed his bruise and looked around. Clambering back into bed suffered a fitful sleep.
Breakfast was quiet, Billy had questions he dare not ask, Nipa was sluggish through lack of sleep.
The chicks and pigs were oddly quiet as he left the house.
“What? There are no eggs,” said Billy to himself, as he went to the pigpen.
They had nailed ten of their piglets to the wooden door. Slit like the boar, their entrails dragged in the mud.
He rushed to the kitchen, “Come quick.”
“Are they male?” she asked.
“Are what male? Do you mean pigs? I didn’t look. Why?”
Nipa helped her husband cleaning up the small bodies and prepared them, ready to offer the meat to a local butcher.
“While we’re in town, I want to see the doctor,” said Billy, as they delivered the package.
“He’s busy all day,” said Nipa, bagging her phone.
“Really? I’ll try tomorrow,” he said.
“What’s so urgent about seeing the doc?”
“Nothing much, something he said about our fence.”
“Forget the fucking fence,” she glared before turning around.
“It’s unlike you to swear. What’s wrong?” asked Billy.
“Nothing darling,” she said sweetly. “Let’s go home.”
“I want to know who is killing our livestock. I need you to translate for me,” said Billy.
“Why waste your, or should I say, our time? No one will tell tales on their neighbours.”
“I have got to try. I need to show them I mean business, otherwise we’ll have no farm.”
Grunting, she nodded, “Okay, let’s go.”
At the first farm they reached, people scuttled inside the house, slamming doors and closing windows.
“It must be them, look they are so scared. They won’t even talk to us,” said Billy.
“Right, let’s go home,” smiled Nipa.
“No, I’m going to the police.”
The police station was a two-man hut constructed on the main road’s junction. Pulling up, Nipa stayed in her seat.
“Come on, I need you to help. I don’t suppose they speak English, do you?” he said, temper rising.
Slowly, she walked to the sliding glass of the office. Two officers’ feet up on the shared desk looked at them wide-eyed.
Billy opened his mouth to speak as the officers sprang from their seats and stood behind the chairs.
Puzzled, he continued in English, “We’ve had problems with our neighbours. I need you guys to tell them to stop killing my animals.”
The men remained rooted and speechless. Nipa stared at them. The men looked around them, wishing they had an escape route behind them. The only door was between themselves and their visitors.
Nipa moved towards the door, the police crouched, quaking.
“Come on, you’ve scared them, they must have heard about an aggressive Englishman,” laughing she strode back to the truck.
“What was all that about? Did they think I would hurt them?” he asked, puffing out his chest.
“Yes, dear, you can intimidate sometimes, you know?” said Nipa, grinning behind her hands.
Proudly Billy drove home expecting an end to the killings.
Back at the farm, Billy searched for tools, a saw, a hammer, and some nails.
“What are you doing,” asked Nipa.
“I’m repairing the fence I tore down.”
“I thought it was clear, I don’t want the FENCE,” she screamed.
Billy returned his tools to their chest.
“Would you like a coffee, darling,” Nipa said sweetly.
“Is the pregnancy getting too much for you?” asked Billy.
“No dear, I’m fine, enjoying thinking about our son.”
There were still no eggs for Billy to collect.
“How about an early night?” Nipa breathed.
The clock ticked to one AM. The baby moved uncomfortably for its mum. Salty moisture ran into her eyes, sweat dripped from her nose. The baby jumped inside, its tiny hands and feet searched for an escape, poking and kicking. Nipa rolled to her side, easing the pain. But not for long.
Billy slept unaware.
On her back again, readjusting her bulge, her eyes rolled up into her head, she was now gently floating above the bed.
She turned again, spinning face down, she floated a few inches above the sheets. She was now nose to nose with Billy, not touching, just there.
His eyes opened, the rest of his body frozen in place. Staring as if in a schoolboy competition, who could last longer. This was no fun game. He wet himself.
She floated lower, drifting towards the foot of the bed, his eyes followed her until she reached his groin, he could watch no longer, forcing his eyes closed. Her nose twitched. He sensed her movement, not daring to open his eyes again until her fetid breath invaded his nose. Quaking, he saw she was eye to eye with him. Hers were empty, empty of empathy, empty of colour. Clear glass marbles watched him, before floating down once more. Only a few inches this time, she slowed and stopped at his Adam’s apple.
“Please be a dream,” he wished.
Her mouth opened, revealing rows of pointed teeth. He knew it was no dream as the first bite clamped his throat.
Tearing, ripping, and chewing, he was dead. She was ravenous, taking clump after clump of his throat, opening up to her goal, his intestines.
The gorge continued until sated. His stomach, intestines, and tendons gone. She drifted into a seated position next to her husband’s body.
Looking at him, she smiled and rested, knowing her task was unfinished. She waited less than a minute.
She was calm and precise as she drew a fingernail sharply across her bulge, “You are next, my baby son.”
Opening her belly, spreading flaps of skin and fat, she lifted the boy out. She clamped her needle-like teeth down on the still attached baby, leaving nothing but a skull and a few bones.
The Krasue floated out of the open window and swept across the gap of missing fencing.
“I told him not to fix it!” she sniggered.
Howling into the night sky, it echoed across rice fields, waking terrified farmers.
She found a new home, high in a Pinus Kesiya tree. Settling comfortably on a branch until she needed her next feast.