The Baby-Eater by @SpectralInk is a Scary Reads for Halloween pick #horror #halloween #giveaway
Title: The Baby-Eater
Author: Chad Robert Morgan
In the Philippines, there are shape-shifting monsters called aswang, and no aswang are more feared than the manananggal.
To Alexander, his family on his mother's side were strangers, the country they lived in just a spot on the map, and their beliefs nothing more than superstitions and folklore.
While accompanying his mother on her trip home after the death of his chronically ill father, however, Alexander is shown a world larger than he could have ever guessed, one both as enriching as it could be deadly.
To keep his family safe, Alexander must risk his life to fight off an undead infant, make alliances with witches, and battle with the most dangerous creature of all - the Baby-Eater.
She heard it again, properly this time, a scraping on the floor, like the claws of a large cat. Her heart thundered in her chest as she tried to come up with a rational and sane explanation, but there was none that didn’t fill her with dread. Had a large rat gotten into the room with the baby? It sounded like several rats the size of pigs, and there was a wet sliding sound that followed the clawing. Her feet were on the stairs before she was aware of it.
“Mira?” she whispered. She wasn’t sure what scared her more, her family catching her being afraid of nothing but her own imagination, or finding something to be scared of in the room with the baby.
The bickering faded, and all eyes turned to her. Armando called out, “Celeste? What is it?”
She wanted to say what she thought it was - no, what she knew it was – but her mind wouldn’t allow her. They were stories told by the superstitious to explain away the hardships of life. They weren’t real, yet the fear of one of them being with her baby pushed her up the stairs step by step.
“Celeste?” Armando said again, now beside her. He was following her up the stairs, looking to her for an explanation. “What is–”
A loud bang made them both jump. Even Celeste’s father, still in his chair and smoking his pipe, jerked at the sound. He put his pipe down on the table and headed to the stairs, but Celeste was thundering up the steps with Armando right behind.
Aswang, Celeste thought.
She burst through the door, not caring if she looked foolish for waking up the baby for nothing. She would have been relieved to wake Mira up, to hear her crying in her crib, scared but safe. Celeste didn’t hear Mira crying, however. She heard nothing. Nothing but wet smacking sounds, not too different than the sound Mira made when latching onto her breast as she fed.
The side of the crib was down. The blood trail ran across the floor from the crib to the window, painted with the entrails dragging behind a legless, emaciated body. Bat-like wings draped onto the floor like a cloak of skin, and it held itself up with one arm. With the other, it held Mira in one long-fingered claw, its sharp nails cradling her head. A straw-like tongue snaked from the creature’s mouth and around Mira’s throat, penetrating her neck at the jugular. Celeste’s baby, her perfect infant angel, mewed like a sick cat, her skin bled pale. She looked to Celeste with sleepy, pleading eyes and reached out to her with one pudgy hand, but the arm fell under its own weight.
Celeste screamed. Armando froze for a moment, trying to make sense of what he saw, but the sole important fact was made clear – Mira was in danger. He shoved past Celeste and charged at the creature, his only thought to rescue his daughter. She could only stand there and watch as the creature spun, its wings catching the air, lifting up and slashing Armando’s throat with the boney wingtip. His stride didn’t change, his body executing the last instructions it received while his head lulled back until it bounced between his shoulder blades. Celeste saw the look of shock on Armando’s face as he stared behind himself, his world now upside down. His mouth tried to gulp for air, a mouth no longer connected to his lungs. Instead, air came through the top of his neck, sounding like he was breathing through a bamboo shaft. Blood sprayed from his neck before his legs stumbled and he fell to the floor. The monster’s wings swung back, brushing Armando aside like a fly. Holding Mira in one arm, it clawed its way back to the window with the other.
All the horror, all the shock, all the stomach-churning disgust were shoved aside by maternal instinct as Celeste ran for her baby. The monster clawed its way up to the window, but she jumped on the thing’s back, pulling it down by its throat. The legless thing let go of the window and dropped to the floor. Its hand now free, it slashed at Celeste’s arm, ripping four gouges through her smooth light-brown skin down to the bone. The strength went out of her arm, her will not enough to defeat the physical limitations of her body. She slid off the monster as it reached up and latched its claw on the edge of the windowsill. The creature folded its wings to slip through the window. Celeste grabbed at its dangling entrails with her good arm, but the blood-coated intestines squished through her fingers, leaving her with a hand empty of anything but blood as the monster fell through the window. She scrambled to her knees and pulled herself to the window to see the creature’s wings spread apart. They caught the air, and the thing glided up into the sky before flapping off into the night.
With Mira still in its claw.
Her father ran into the room and stopped short at the carnage. His foot slipped on Armando’s blood, and he fell to one knee. He knelt there, frozen in shock as Celeste screamed out the window, reaching out as if she could pull the creature to the ground with the power of her grief.
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A hair-raising tale in its own right, the fear factor is raised to eleven as it dives into the darker sides of Filipino mythology.
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Chad Robert Morgan was born and raised in California. He served in the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman and worked his way through college as a vocational nurse. As well as writing, Chad works in the video game industry. He currently lives in southern California with his wife Carol and his youngest son Alexander.
Carol Occeña Morgan was born in Santa Cruz, Manila. She came to the US in 2000 on a work visa, and in 2005 she met her husband. They married in 2007. She consulted and contributed to this book.
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