The White Nothing
I’m running as fast as I can along the heavily wooded ridge, dodging
downed tree trunks and avoiding the depressions in the snow. My toe catches on
a branch. I take a spill and topple to the ground. My heart is beating out of
my chest. I can’t get the memory of what I just saw out of my head! I pick
myself up out of the snow and turn to scan the tree line behind me before
fleeing in the direction of the road.
Paulie and I were best friends. We attended the same schools, played the
same sports. We even dated the same girl (but not at the same time) in high
school. We had heard the legends since we were children. Folks would speak
about “The White Nothing” in hushed tones—at least the ones who believed it.
About the “thing with no shape that appears in the winter.” They’d talk about
seeing the carcasses of dead animals ripped from limb to limb. Most would say
the stories were hogwash—that it was only a mountain lion that roamed the land,
although no one had seen a big cat in these parts for over thirty years. But
that didn’t explain why the remains were found uneaten or why they bore no
teeth marks. Old man Krugman said he found a large elk two winters ago
completely torn apart. He said it would have taken superhuman strength to do
that. It was like, “someone—or something—is hunting and killing its prey for
If I hadn’t gone off the trail some twenty yards away to take a dump
behind a tree, I’d probably be like poor Paulie right now. I heard his screams,
and I didn’t even stop to wipe myself. I pulled up my britches and ran back to
where I’d left him. But there was no Paulie—only a trail of blood. I followed
that trail for a few minutes until I found him—or rather, what was left of him:
an arm on the left, his naked torso off to the right—and over there, a portion
of his leg and buttock. His clothes were nowhere in sight. A rock face
with blood trickling down caught my eye. Perched on that boulder was Paulie’s
head! His eyes were open and his mouth was agape; I’m sure he was trying to
yell out a final warning.
I can see the road about fifty yards ahead now. For the first time, I’m
beginning to feel hopeful that I might survive this terrible nightmare. I’ll
come back here later with the sheriff and her deputies, and we’ll catch whoever
An unseen hand catches my left leg and jerks me to the ground! I look
back, and in my horror, I realize that there’s nothing there. Only, there is!
The dull, gray tree line looks blurry, as though I’m observing the terrain
through dirty eyeglasses. The blurry lines are moving, coming closer to me. I
scream in terror, but I hear only silence as the blurry lines strike a blow to
my head with great force.
There’s no pain, only a curious numbness and a loud humming in my
For a few fleeting seconds, my eyes continue to see. I observe my headless body
lying in the snow a few feet away. Time seems to come to a standstill. As my
field of vision shrinks to an ever-closing circle, I watch, dispassionately, as
The White Nothing has its way with my remains.
White Nothing" first appeared in Darkness Within Ezine in
Temples resides in Watertown, Massachusetts. He's published five
mystery-thriller novels, a novella, and four story anthologies, in addition to
over 220 short stories online in: The London
Independent Story Prize; Wilderness House Literary Review; Blink-Ink, Boston
Literary Magazine; and Ariel Chart, to name but a few. Phil
also likes to dabble in mobile photography. He is a member of GrubStreet and
the Bagel Bards. You can learn more about Phil by visiting his website at:
Henry Stanton's fiction, poetry
and paintings appear in 2River, The A3
Review, Avatar, The Baltimore City Paper, The Baltimore Sun Magazine,
High Shelf Press, Kestrel, North of Oxford, Outlaw Poetry,
PCC Inscape, Pindeldyboz, Rusty Truck, Salt & Syntax, SmokeLong
Quarterly, The William and Mary Review, Word Riot, The Write
Launch, and Yellow Mama, among other publications.
His poetry was selected for the
A3 Review Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the Eyewear
9th Fortnight Prize for Poetry. His fiction received an Honorable Mention
acceptance for the Salt & Syntax Fiction Contest and was selected as a finalist
for the Pen 2 Paper Annual Writing Contest.
A selection of Henry Stanton's paintings
are currently on show at Atwater's Catonsville and can be viewed at the following website www.brightportfal.com. A selection of Henry Stanton’s published fiction
and poetry can be located for reading in the library at www.brightportfal.com.
Stanton is the Founding & Managing Editor of The Raw Art Review—www.therawartreview.com.