Blood Red Melody: A Short Horror Story
Updated: Aug 15, 2021
While playing a sorrowful song on a red grand piano, taxidermist, Terry Skins, awakens an ancient curse... as well as all of the taxidermized cats and dogs on one of his living room wall.
Terry Skins, a taxidermist who lives in a secluded cabin in the boondocks of Morton, Connecticut, finishes mounting a black and white cat called Shiloh to his living room wall. Shiloh is Mrs. Dillweed’s latest edition to her ever-growing pet cemetery, another furry baby she just can’t seem to part from. In fact, over the past year, Skins’ workshop has been littered with Mrs. Dillweed’s beloved cat carcasses including Creamsicle, Periwinkle, Juniper, Barley, Poppy, Lavender, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet. To make matters worse, shortly after obtaining the mounts, Mrs. Dillweed returns them with the face of someone who has recently eaten a handful of sour grapes. Even though, Skins wants to take the mounts and shove them down Mrs. Dillweed’s throat till at least one of each cat’s hardened ears pierce through the front of her skull, preferably out from under one of her green eyes, he doesn’t. He knows she’s one of his few means of income.
After mounting Shiloh to his Wall of Bereavement, Skins takes a few steps back, almost tripping over a small coffee table bearing a vase full of decaying blue hydrangeas, standing beside a black felted armchair, and takes one good look at the animal kingdom pinned to his mucus green wallpaper. On the right side of The Wall, ember lights beaming from the fireplace below dance in a Native American smoke dance fashion along the fixed faces of caribou, tigers, lions, elk, panthers, bears, rhinos, and hyenas. For a moment, he smiles, and a line of teardrops roll along a cheek like boulders gathering speed. Then, he pans his face to the left side. The firelight barely touches the still faces of the various cats and dogs. His face fills with rage and takes the color of the ashes piling beneath the fires’ wood pile.
Household pets! Dogs and cats! What happened to me? What have I become? The words echo in his head.
Skins leaves the Wall of Defeat and begins to walk over to his bar stand, located in a dimly lit corner of the room, and pours himself a glass of Dr. Mcgillicuddy’s Butterscotch Whiskey. The first swig scorches his soft pallet, pharynx, and eventually, his stomach. Then, with one gulp, he downs the rest of the glass and throws it like an MLB pitcher against the mucus green wallpaper. First, the whiskey slides along the wallpaper and surfaces of the cats and dogs’ flesh. Next, it drips from their glass eyes. Then, finally, it seeps in. Without looking at The Wall again, he grabs the whole bottle of Mcgillicuddy’s and stumbles over to a custom-made red grand piano like a Walker in The Walking Dead.
After taking a seat, he takes a few more gulps from the bottle, unveils the piano’s black and white keys, and begins to play. As his long fingers jump from one octave to the next, he begins to play Mozart’s, “Lacrimosa.” His fingers careen up and down the middle of the eighty-eight keys and as his movements quicken, the melody crescendos, filling the room with sorrow, anguish, and delight. With each new chord Skins plays, a curious fume rises from the brass strings, then out of the cover like a leaf in the wind and blends into the mucus green wall behind him. Before reaching the end of the piece, Skins abruptly stops playing and sucks from the whiskey bottle like a nursing baby.
“Some days, I wish I’d just die.” He says and resumes playing.
Crash! A sound reverberates throughout the living room, overpowering the piano playing, and causes Skins to stop completely.
What the hell was that? Skins thinks to himself.
After getting up from the grand piano, leaving the whiskey behind, he investigates the origin of the noise and discovers the small coffee table on its side and the vase of blue hydrangeas dismembered and strewn across the red and black Victorian carpet. For a second, he stares in awe at the mess and only for a second because he then hears the pitter patter of paws along the mucus green walls. He looks up and they’re gone. Where each taxidermized cat and dog should be, there is now only the bases of the mounts.
Where are they? He thinks to himself.
Soon, he begins to perspire like a glass of ice water on a humid day. Cold shivers swim up and down his spine, becoming eager leeches. Silence engulfs the room with one foul gulp. Suddenly, something unseen extinguishes the fire and the silence is broken with a chorus of famished cats, all harmonizing directly behind Skins. Without hesitation, he turns around and sure enough, there are all of Mrs. Dillweed’s deceased felines, hunched and ready to pounce, scattered throughout the dimly lit room.
How have they resumed their original anatomical shapes? Skins asks himself but prefers to answer that question later.
Without hesitation, Skins sprints over to his gun case on one side of the room like an Olympic runner, taking a ring of keys out of one of his pockets, and frantically jamming each one into the keyhole. While searching for the correct key, the group of meowing cats come closer, closer, and closer to the point where one is nearly nipping at his toes. Finally, he puts in the correct key, turns it, then jerks open the doors of the gun case. Luckily, one of his bolt-action elephant guns is already loaded and like a professional ice skater, he quickly spins on the balls of his feet and blasts one of the cats in the neck. It’s flesh bursts like a crushed watermelon and launches across the room. With two more shots, he’s able to annihilate and relocate two more cats nearing his feet.
Knowing he has one more shot in the gun, he scans for one last cat to eliminate that may serve as a major struggle during his effort to flee. While looking at the black felted armchair, he sees it. Arching its back atop the armchair is one of Mrs. Dillweed’s multitude of cats and this orange and black one is named Tigger.
“There you are you son of a bitch!” Skins screams and fires the last round.
In his final shot, Skins pierces Tigger’s head and it implodes, taking the shape of the Grand Canyon, causing its body to fly across the room and smack against The Wall. With his blood-stained lips, he opens his mouth and laughs like a madman. After laughing mockingly, he throws the elephant gun at the incoming cats and makes a run for the front door, located on the other side of the room, just behind the red grand piano.
But before passing the piano, something much larger than a cat pushes into his back and causes him to fall on top of it. He immediately turns around and comes face to face with not only a group of hungry cats, but a gathering of vicious mutts including a variety of Rottweilers, German Shepherds, English Mastiffs, and Labrador Retrievers. His head rapidly scans the room like a sprinkler and realizes this is the end, but he refuses to give in.
“You’ll never win! I won’t let you!” He yells, almost causing lymph nodes in his throat.
The once taxidermized cats and dogs cease their movements and seat themselves as if their all about to receive a treat.
“There! That’s what I thought! Someday, I will die! But not like this!” He yells.
All the cats and dogs remain idle, except for one. Standing on all fours, atop the red grand piano, is a massive Rottweiler with a mouth that’s dripping blood after grinding its teeth so hard. Skins turns his head as slowly as an owl and glares into the dog’s brown eyes.
“He ll o… Br u ce.” Skins greets the dog through tears and dispersed phonemes.
With one opening and thrust of the jaw, Bruce crushes his head. After the initial bite, the rest of the creatures join in, tearing Skins apart like sharks tearing at the flesh and blubber of a deceased whale. Glistening cherry red blood oozes from Skins’ wounds, taking the form of the icing of a cake and covers the surface of the grand piano. Eventually, it drips from the piano keys, onto the Victorian carpet, and seeps in.
A week later, Mrs. Dillweed arrives at Skins' cabin, bearing another deceased feline. She walks up to the caramel colored front door, knocks twice, then waits for a response. Nothing. She knocks twice more and waits again.
Maybe he's still sleeping? Mrs. Dillweed takes a moment to ponder the thought and twists the doorknob.
The door's unlocked.
Mrs. Dillweed holds her motionless cat in one hand and uses her other to slowly swing the door open. When she finally crosses the threshold of the doorway, she doesn't believe her eyes. There, gathering in the center of living room like some town council meeting are countless cats and dogs, all staring at The Wall. As she scans the room, she recognizes more than a few of her recently departed cats and can easily pick them out of the crowd because of their unusual fur color patterns. Not only does she get a glimpse of the recently departed, but she also sees Tigger's mutilated flesh laying in a corner of the room.
Good God! What happened here! She thinks to herself.
Then, she decides to answer the question as to why they're staring at The Wall with expressionless faces. She follows their line of sight and eventually arrives at the object of interest. In the center of the The Wall, is only one mounted creature. Because of the poor stitching, it's nearly impossible to recognize just what exactly it is. Though, there are some unmistakable features. Two eye sockets, an ear, a mustached mouth, and a head of long dirty blonde hair dripping red.
Once Mrs. Dillweed recognizes not only what it is, but who, she drops the dead cat in her arms and covers her mouth with both hands. Through the crevices of her trembling fingers, she utters one name.