The Horror Zine
Liana Vrajitoru Andreasen

The October Featured Story is by Liana Vrajitoru Andreasen

Please feel free to email Liana at


by Liana Vrajitoru Andreasen

I’m a cop. I have to be there when something happens. My mind is on duty even when I’m not. I uphold the law wherever am, for the law does not take any breaks. That much, I remember. For the last few days, something has been happening right here, on my street, and I don’t know how to help.

It started in the middle of the night. I was sleeping, but it was one of those nights when you think you fell asleep but you still feel your body, heavy, stretched on the bed, and you see objects in your room. The weight of your body is unbearable—you’re made of bricks, and there’s something wrong but you can’t open your eyes fully to know what. And now there’s a shadow at the window, and you’re convinced you’re going to die. I keep my gun next to my bed—I’m not quite as crazy as those who keep it under the pillow. I’m a tosser and turner, so I don’t know when I’ll mess up something under the pillow. There wouldn’t be anyone for me to shoot accidentally but myself.

There wasn’t just one shadow this time. There were many shadows, men with hats, whispering in the room, outside the room, and I was helpless on my bed. I knew the gun was out of reach because I couldn’t move. A broken voice from somewhere kept talking, shouting, but all I could make out was…Ate him up! Ate his insides! Ate him up! A scream gurgled in my throat, but it only came out as a moan. I breathed rapidly and let out some grunts, until I woke myself up.

That’s when I realized, my walkie-talkie was buzzing with voices from the kitchen. More buzzing and hissing, less voice. It was losing power. My chest was warm with adrenaline, the half-dream of my half-sleep following me around the room as I stumbled around the bed to get to the door. I desperately wanted water now, and I walked in the dark to the kitchen, stepping on the trail of socks and shoes I’d left around over the course of days, maybe weeks. It was darker than it should have been—or maybe my eyes were foggy from allergies. I couldn’t see my walkie-talkie, but I heard it sputtering with static and a panicked voice. “Not enough men…blow that bastard to pieces. Civilians, too...every available agent…”

Then the damned thing went quiet, before I could locate it. To hell with it. I needed a drink of something, anything. The tap had no water. Spewed some rusty drops. My throat throbbed, my tongue sand-like. I had never felt so thirsty—not in the sun, not while hiking, not when I was shot in the street and almost died. It felt as if my throat, my esophagus and my stomach were shrinking like a bagpipe, and there was nothing to quench that inhuman thirst. My fridge was empty. Empty egg carton, discarded beer bottles with no beer.

A cop doesn’t panic. But this was not something we ever drilled for. I turned on all the lights in my house. One by one, they flickered faintly, like night lights, not enough to chase the dark away. I got dressed fast, putting on whatever clothes fell into my hands—dirty ones picked off the floor. I grabbed the gun from the night stand and ran out, hoping the night air would give my burning throat some respite.

My street, as I came out the gate, was empty. The house across, with its chimney in need of repair, stood mute behind the electric wires coming out of the leaning wooden pole. No wind, no night bird. The owners of the night—the street dogs—were nowhere in sight. Not one scrounging in garbage, as they always did when the night shielded them from cars and humans. They weren’t even barking somewhere, in their wild, nocturnal choir with which the city of Iashi had long been intimate.

Not one single car, no lost pedestrian. I’d gotten used to seeing cars parked on the sidewalk from one end of the street to the other. Made it easier for suspects to get lost. As more foreign cars invaded the old city after communism fell, the narrow streets were always overflowing, crammed with cars and swarming with vagabonds eager to break into them. Now, nothing. As I started down the street, my body felt heavier than it should have been, as if suddenly I was back in my dream, watching the shapes and shadows around me with half-open eyes. I dragged my feet, pulling them off the ground like from glue.

That’s when I started hearing voices in the distance. Someone shouting, “Stop, stop!” and other voices taunting. Around the corner, where Bunavestire Street began, I expected to see some hooligans chased by some cops whose voices I’d most certainly be able to identify. As I drew my gun, I breathed in the hot night air, and it hurt my insides. I lumbered heavily and tripped over every pothole, and finally I turned the corner. Instead of opening into the slope of Bunavestire and the church with the black iron fence, the street ended in a cul-de-sac. I’d gone to that church since my youngest days. The cul-de-sac—all new to me. It was surrounded by high walls, the likes of which you’d see around a prison, not a neighborhood. I had nowhere to go but back.

“Don’t go there Daniel!”

It was a familiar voice. That had to be Captain Popescu, with his cigarette voice, and Daniel was one of our new guys at the Station.

“But, Sir, I’ll be careful.” Yes, that voice was the new guy. “I won’t go near the window, like those people did.”

Now I had to let them know I was there.

“Hey! Hey, over here!” I shouted. I choked saying it, and barely any voice came out.

“Daniel, stand down, do not shoot at the house!”

What house?

Some women screamed in the distance, behind houses and trees.

I tried to run but my run was a crawl. My thirst was made of fire. My house, I had to get to my house. I fell in front of my own gate. If I didn’t drink, or have something fresh in my mouth right now, even if I had to bite my own hand for blood, I was going to die. I would burn like a moth in the flame. I let out a long scream. It was animalistic, free, and almost instantaneously the burning went away. I felt vital fluids sweep into my mouth, throat, and downward into my whole body. A lifesaving flood from nowhere.

I could barely tell who I was anymore. In the kitchen, my hidden walkie-talkie spoke again in the dark, but by now the words meant nothing to me. “…sucked alive, entrails and all,” someone said. “body imploded into the walls…seeped…missing more agents.” The thirst had come back, and I knew it was pointless to look around my house. “…cannot hope to retrieve the bones of Sergeant Daniel Movila.”

Damn walkie-talkie. Had it turned into a radio? A movie?

I made my way outside, into the street, my ears searching for those voices. I went a different way than the first time, on the empty road, to where it split in three little crisscrossing streets under giant chestnut trees. But as I turned onto the cobbled road that should have split at the end, another wall abruptly blocked my way. Behind the wall, there were voices again, and chaotic noises of gunshots. Many gunshots, even a machine gun. A war?

“That’s for Daniel!” someone shouted, and the machine gun barked louder into the night. All of that sounded as if it was happening right behind that wall.

“Guns don’t do anything, Sergeant,” I heard Captain Popescu’s voice.

My friends, my people, they were out there fighting something I couldn’t help them fight. And the thirst, the thirst was killing me. Who was that Daniel person? What had happened to him?

“I’m here, Captain!” I shouted, and my voice was hoarse, unrecognizable. “Over the wall!”

Nobody answered me, and the gunfire increased.

“Bring the flamethrower,” said the Captain. “And no one go near the house again. I don’t want to lose another man.”

“But the flames won’t reach from here,” a young voice said. “Just a few more steps.”

“Sergeant Marin, that’s an order! Do not step any closer to the house! Do I have to come get you? I said do not…”

And still, I could see nothing. Something was burning in me, like a hungry dragon eating my organs, melting them in lava. I closed my eyes and collapsed as I reached to touch the high stone wall. With what I thought would be my last breath, I let out a scream that could have crushed boulders. Wild, prehistoric, like colliding planets. And then it came—the flood, the life-saving waves of life soaking my body from top to bottom. I walked—floated, rather—back to my house, already half asleep, and stumbled into my bed in a drunken euphoria. I was soon deeply asleep.

The third time I came out after a sleep of what felt like months. I thought there was a wall I wanted to climb over. In my neighborhood somewhere, to the big city. Big city, I remembered. I needed to find someone, anyone, to tell me who I was. My feet took me around the yard around my house. House. I remembered doing some growing up in it. Married in it, some, until she left. Been alone in it some more. But I could not tell anymore what I was supposed to find outside the walls that encircled my empty neighborhood. I couldn’t remember anybody who lived outside my house. Not one neighbor. Not one person from the life out there. There was a city past the walls, but I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to find in that city. What life, what people, what goings on.

Voices full of hate. No cigarette voice, just hate voices. Helicopters somewhere above the wall. Couldn’t see them. Someone said words in a loud speaker.

“Nobody will cross the barbed wire around the house, under any circumstances. This area is now a disaster zone. The families of Sergeant Marin and Captain Popescu have accepted that the bodies cannot be returned,” said the voice. “The house will be destroyed—and we’ll destroy him with it.”

Metallic, the voice floated. Flapped above my head, like it was on top of the wall.

“If anyone finds any pieces of flesh, bone, or clothing outside the barbed wire perimeter, collect them. There could still be body parts from other people who were killed. But do not, I repeat, do not attempt to cross into the danger zone. The monster is waiting there, and he will not spare anyone.”

Now I’m sitting here, my back against the wall. I fell here. I am much thirsty. Danger zone. I know I’m a cop—somehow I know that. I can’t help. Chaos…much chaos on the other side, but here, I’m safe. I’m a cop, but they don’t want me there. I think what’s there is at war with here, and I can’t think of me how it happened.

“We are now authorized to drop the bomb,” the voice says, as it starts moving away from the wall. “Begin evacuation. Tanks, cars, everything. Any remaining civilians, anyone, leave your houses right now.”

Bomb? Where? Wait, wait, I should…vacate. I’m here. I can’t say to them I’m here, because my voice doesn’t come out. I’m burning inside…I need the life to flood into me, somehow. I have to scream. I have to, but the fire in my stomach doesn’t let the air come out. I have to do something, say…something. They’re leaving me. Dropping a bomb. I don’t know who I am.

I shake all over. I have to do something. I can’t scream, and I’m burning inside.

I know now that I have to open my eyes. All this time, they were only slightly, slightly open, so that part of reality seeped into my dream. I’ve been here, in my house, all along. Half dreaming, and half alive. Burning, thirsty… I have to…WAKE UP!

Now. Now, I am! Open, each eye is wide as the very bed where I thought I slept, although all furniture has long been crushed underneath.

Something has come back to me. It’s not as much what I see, even, but what I realize. What I feel with my whole body, as I sit here, in my house, helpless to do anything about it. All I can see is the plaster on the ceiling, right in front of my eyes, but I can’t move to see anything else.

My body is my house. I am big, bigger than all of them put together. No law can touch me now, the law I once cared about. My body fills the house: one leg has grown to fill up the bathroom, and an arm fills up the kitchen. My stomach has broken the wall between the living room and the bedroom, and my torso stretches from wall to wall in both rooms. I can feel the walls on my skin, and somehow they are comforting, like a cradle, like a mother’s embrace. Except that I’m hungry and thirsty, more than I’ve ever been.

And now that I’m finally, truly awake, I know there is only one way to feel good again, satiated again. I have to lure more of them to my house, feel their flesh, their blood seep into the walls, to give me life. This is the house of law, and I am the new law they have been feeding.

But I know this will end soon. I heard them say they were dropping the bomb, but I just wish they’d send one more meal before they end it all for me. I was one of them, once. Where is their humanity?

Quench it. I can wait.

Liana Vrajitoru Andreasen is originally from Romania and currently lives in McAllen, Texas where she is an Associate Professor at South Texas College. She has published stories in Fiction International, The Raven Chronicles, The Willow Review, Mobius, a Journal of Social Change, Interstice, Children, Churches and Daddies, Down in the Dirt, and The Cloud anthology. She received two Pushcart nominations (for fiction and for translation work).