This week, short fiction from Victoria Hutchinson that explores what it’s like to seek out pain you cannot feel.
Narrated by Tonia Ransom.
Executive Producer and Host: Tonia Ransom
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Hi. I’m Tonia Ransom, creator and executive producer of NIGHTLIGHT, a horror podcast featuring creepy tales written and performed by Black creatives from all over the world.
This week we have a story that explores what it’s like to seek pain you can’t feel.
But before we get to serial killers and serial thrill seekers, just a reminder that all episodes are brought to you by the NIGHTLIGHT Legion. Thanks to our newest members Melva, Elly, Megan, JP & Melinda, and Paul. You all have my eternal gratitude. We’re working toward our goal of bringing you new episodes every week, but we need your help. Just go to patreon.com/nightlightpod to join the NIGHTLIGHT Legion and get a shoutout on the podcast.
Now sit back, turn out the lights, and enjoy “Bloodlust”, by Victoria Hutchinson, narrated by me, Tonia Ransom.
Faye Rockwell. A young twenty-something. The sight of blood never upset her in the way that it should. The warmth, the taste, the color…she swallowed. Slow and deliberate. She had a nasty spill in the unfinished basement of an abandoned home. Her shins were scraped, bruising on the light brown skin, despite wearing a green tracksuit. She lifted up her pant legs to get a good look at each shin, then gently ran her fingers over the forming droplets of blood. Faye brought the sticky red on her fingertips to her mouth.
“Tastes good.” She whispered. After doing another quick body scan, she got to her feet. Nothing beyond the cuts and bruises. The word unfortunate came to mind. All she did was trip and fall. Exploring old homes was beginning to become a drag. The sense of adventure had long since left her. Anticipation of having an accident barely fueled her expeditions at this point. The desolate corners of the city slums. The dilapidated homes. The dense woods. They hardly brought her any joy.
Since her childhood, Faye was prone to healing rather quickly. It was borderline miraculous. The fear of injury no matter the severity, never struck her as something to worry about. Topped with a morbid curiosity, it gave birth to a gnarly masochism. Fearlessness became recklessness.
“Do you only play sports to get hurt?” Her mother asked one day. Seventeen-year-old Faye looked up from chewing away at dead skin on the side of her thumb. She stared at her weary mother from across the breakfast table. Her older brother sniffled in the midst of the silence. Her father ate, ignoring the drastic change in mood.
“…What if I said yes?” Faye finally replied. She started chewing on her thumb again and her mother blinked.
“That’d be cause for concern.”
Faye shook off the memory as she climbed the concrete staircase. The dank wetness of the old basement made her skin clammy and the summer heat didn’t help either. Upon reaching the top of the stairs, the house began to settle while the wind blew all around it. Creaking in various places as if the old occupants still roamed the halls. The rotting hardwood floor whined under Faye’s black sneakers with each step that she took. A sordid glee sparked inside her, hoping that she’d fall through the floor and feel something new. But it didn’t happen. She made her way to the front door out onto the porch.
Her bicycle leaned against a large tree about 50 yards away, she mounted it and rode down an old path. It was barely visible with shallow puddles of summer rain and dead leaves from last autumn still littered about the forest floor. As she rode, she felt a presence. Someone watching. Although on foot, they followed closely. That peculiar glee sparked again…who or what could it be?
Deep, deep into the woods Faye rode her bike to a house she’d found a year ago while on one of her little expeditions. She was a cryptid hunter. Self-proclaimed, of course, and this particular house held an aura that she wasn’t ready to face head on until now.
Jeremiah Fink. A few inches taller than six feet. A little underweight. His skin, a sickening pale white. His grey eyes, milky and lifeless. As dreadful as he looked, he had incredibly long eyelashes and elegant long fingers. He fancied himself Jack the Ripper…in a sleepy forgotten town.
Sunset began as Jeremiah followed the skinny twenty-something into the woods. His black hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans were unforgiving in the heat, and just about anyone could see him standing amongst the verdant shrubbery. Yet, the girl never looked back. First of his prey to behave so strangely. She foolishly led him to the perfect place to play.
The warm smell of earth after a day of summer rain filled him. He held it in, let it overtake him while the green of the girl’s tracksuit and the pink of her hair bobbed ahead between the trees. After some time, they reached their destination. He licked his dry lips as she climbed half-broken stairs onto the front porch of an old cabin. He was out of breath; following behind in that heat on foot was not the best idea. Jeremiah’s tongue, split like a snake’s, lolled out of his head while he daydreamed. She stopped before entering, wiped her brow on her sleeve, her glistening brown skin still sticky with sweat. He waited, his breathing evened out, his tongue twisted this way and that. She was inside now, and he waited a little longer. Five minutes passed and he was on the porch with his hand roving over the hunting knife in his hoodie pouch. He relished the thought of her crimson blood staining her clothes and stepped inside the darkened foyer.
Abandoned furniture covered in tarp. Tarp covered in dead leaves, animal scat, dust, cobwebs, and Lord only knows whatever else. Each floorboard creaked at the slightest movement. A warm breeze gushed through the open windows but Jeremiah felt a cold dread seep into his bones. Where was his prey? He swallowed. Slow. Deliberate. The cabin was dead silent save for the settling. It wasn’t very large, he should have been able to hear her roaming around. Jeremiah inspected the living space, even tugging on some of the tarps and getting droppings on his sneakers.
“What do you want?”
He jumped and spun around. The pink-haired girl stood in a hall leading to another open room.
“I…” His voice caught in his dry throat. No matter how many times he swallowed the dryness persisted.
“Leave. You’ve no business here.” About face. Her short ponytail bobbed and she disappeared into the darkness of the next room. Once out of sight, her footsteps no longer made a sound. Dumbfounded, Jeremiah stuttered, speaking to no one, not even himself.
Faye huffed and felt her way around in what was once a crude little kitchen. The grime on the broken table and the overturned chairs sullied her hands and clothes.
“Sonuvabitch tryna ruin my night.” She grumbled under her breath upon finding a cellar door. The strange man left her thoughts. A vibration ran through Faye, her fingers barely brushed against the rusted door knob. She swallowed. Slow. Deliberate. She opened the door, its hinges squeaked ever so slightly. The wooden stairs disappeared into a darkness black as pitch. Faye pulled a flashlight out of her small messenger bag and turned it on.
Nothing was there.
A simple wooden landing leading into a cellar with concrete walls and that same dank watery smell. Faye gingerly made her way down and probed around the large room. Her little flashlight cutting through the darkness like a hot knife through butter with each quick turn of her wrist. Long forgotten storage boxes were stacked in a corner, and an old trail of blood stained the floor. The sight of blood never upset her in the way that it should.
Bored. Disappointed. Faye went back to the stairs. When she made it to the top, she felt it before she heard it. She spun around dangerously fast on one foot and shined her light down to see an all-white figure. It was white, yes, but like a thick mist or fog taking on humanoid form. Solid but gaseous. Slits for eyes. A mouth that couldn’t quite open seeing as it was partially shut by the coagulation of an old wound’s untreated scab. Faye’s heart thumped in her chest while she gawked at it taking very slow, deliberate steps up the staircase. Its bald head nearly touched the ceiling as it moved. She exhaled sharply in awe, unable to speak. The sordid glee returned and Faye stepped back from the stairs. Not to take a better look, but to prepare. Her flashlight dropped, clattering on the floor and lighting up the other side of the room. She jumped, clearing the top few stairs and dropkicked the creature back down into the darkness.
“Show me!” She laughed and yelled. The creature groaned in pain like a lowing bovine. “Show me real pain!” Faye’s chaotic laughter bubbled up from the stairwell. The strange man, Jeremiah, followed the sound to see the girl wrestling with the creature at the bottom of the stairs.
“What the fuck?” he yelled. Terror exploded inside him. That girl. She snapped her attention onto him. She eviscerated the thing with her bare hands, completely destroyed. Her green jacket soaked in its blood. Her hands… her forearms… drenched. Jeremiah didn’t say another word and Faye returned to messing in the remains. She repeated the same phrase, her shrieking died down to a whisper with each utterance.
I wanna know real pain… Faye thought. She stood up, most of her tracksuit soaked through with the blood of the creature.
“The fuck is wrong with you, kid?” Jeremiah asked. He couldn’t look away from her. Her eyes were devoid of emotion. The flashlight on Jeremiah’s phone served as a spotlight and Faye bowed her head and climbed the stairs on all fours. There was blood smeared across her face and dribbling from her nose. Jeremiah dropped his phone, stepped backwards and slipped on Faye’s discarded flashlight. He fell on his back and she continued to crawl. Faye crawled right over top of him and hovered. Her face inches from his; tilted to the side and whispering:
“Aren’t you here to kill me… aren’t you going to show me real pain…”
Deep gashes in her cheeks and forehead from her fight with the creature were starting to heal already and Jeremiah couldn’t keep his eyes off of them.
“I-I dunno what you’re talking about…” He stammered. Faye breathed deeply, still hovering, still face to face. She was unnatural, mystical. A shuddering breath escaped Jeremiah while she continued to stare.
“Do it… Kill me.” She muttered into his ear. Her laughter was far away when she sat back on her haunches to howl. Faye straddled him; her blood-soaked tracksuit stained his blue jeans. Jeremiah pulled his knife out of his hoodie pouch and shoved its fat blade into her gut. Her laughter was cut short with a grunt and she keeled over. Jeremiah scuttled from underneath her and stood up. He stared at her in disbelief while she gasped and choked. She grabbed the knife and pulled it out. He hesitated, but then snatched the knife from her shaking hands. The urge to run away made his legs ache but he couldn’t look away…
“Is this what you wanted…”
The blood stopped pouring and Faye’s strength returned. She propped herself up on an elbow and grinned at him.
“Why’d you stop…” She staggered to her feet. Jeremiah backed away. “Keep going, I was almost there…”
He was too slow. He waited too long. Faye tackled him to the ground and fought him. Much in the same feral way she fought the creature. Jeremiah stabbed and slashed at her, he tried with all his might to get her off of him. For every blow, Faye struck back. Harder. More lethal. She used him like a pin cushion. Knife in. Knife out. All the while her cuts and bruises healed faster… and faster… and faster…
Jeremiah grew tired. There wasn’t any way he could show her pain. Real pain. Her body refused to bleed out. Her mind refused to break. It couldn’t ever be broken.
Faye took his knife and threw it aside.
“This clearly isn’t working.” Her voice was calm. She stood up, took a few steps into the hallway leading back to the foyer. She spat saliva and blood onto the rotting grimy floor. “I’ll have to find someone else…” Jeremiah watched her disappear into the darkness with half-lidded eyes. The life in him slipped away along with her.
Faye straddled her bike outside and pulled a notebook and pen from her bag. She crossed out “cabin cryptid” and “Jeremiah Fink” from a list. Among the other items on her list were various escaped convicts, crooked cops, and local cryptids. She stashed her notebook.
“Neither man nor monster can kill me,” she said, satisfied with her findings. Faye adjusted her bloodied pants. The scrapes and bruises from earlier were long gone. She wiped her face with the back of her sleeve again, only making the blood messier. The last of the sunlight petered through the woods and Faye clicked on the little headlight on her bike. She set off on the old path from before. Slow and deliberate to start. She picked up the pace once she found the main road and sped back home.
Street lights in the neighborhood turned summer rain puddles into looking glass. Faye’s reflection whisked by with a pair of horns poking through her pink hair.
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And to thank you for listening until the very end, we have a creepy fact for you.
There is a real disease that causes people to be unable to feel pain. It’s called Congenital Insensitivity to Pain and only a few hundred people in the world have it. While it sounds like a cool superpower, it’s actually quite dangerous. Few people born with this disorder reach adulthood and it’s because they are never able to learn what their bodies can handle and what they can’t. Others do so much damage to their bodies that they become permanently disabled.
Join us next week for an interview with Victoria, then a new story the following week.