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Skitter


Anomaly E-1378


Description: Entity consists of the severed head and hands of Adeline Westfield, removed post-mortem. The ragged stumps of the hands, cut off at a point just below the wrist, are embedded within the base of the neck and serve as means of locomotion. The head itself has long, prehensile black hair that moves of its own accord and is used to restrain victims. Its eyes remain shut while in a docile state, opening to reveal pools of milky white absent of pupils.


Despite crawling on its fingertips, the anomaly is deceptively fast, able to leap up to 3m to latch onto its victims, which it dispatches through strangulation. A grip force exceeding 1,050 PSI allows it to crush both bone and musculature, removing limbs with ease. If allowed to remove the head of a victim, the entity will dig its fingers into the opened wound, forcing itself inside. Once situated, it will reenter a docile state, and the body it possesses will reanimate. The entity is easily corralled in this state, as it will only listlessly wander about, seemingly unaware of its surroundings.


Though the entity itself does not decay, the same cannot be said for the bodies it reanimates, which will decompose past usability. At this point, the entity will extricate itself from the neck wound, open its eyes, and seek a new host.


Civilian police forces were the first to document the anomaly while performing a wellness check at the home of a local pastor, Father Caldwell. A transcript of Officer Reed's body-cam footage was recovered from the scene.


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Initial Encounter:


Feed opens onto Reed exiting his squad car alongside Officer Krogulski. It is late at night. The neighborhood is quiet and still. The lights of their squad car illuminate the two-story home before them. There are no lights on within the house, and the pastor’s sedan sits in the driveway. The front door is ajar.


Reed: You think he just… left it open? Should we be expecting a break-in?


Krogulski laughs as he exits the driver’s seat, closing the door behind him.


Krogulski: This isn’t Santa Fe, kid. That kind of thing doesn’t happen around here. He’s just getting on in years. You should’ve seen him at mass last Sunday...


He walks around the front of the vehicle to come beside the waiting Reed.


Krogulski: [continuing] ...poor bastard could barely string a sentence together. Like he couldn’t focus. C’mon.


The pair advance on the house, heading up the stairs towards the porch. Krogulski leads. At the door, he peers into the darkness, rapping his knuckles loudly on the door frame.


Krogulski: Hello?


He knocks again.


Krogulski: Father Caldwell? It’s Officer Krogulski. Hello?


Reed’s hand enters the frame, tapping Krogulski on the shoulder. He directs his partner’s attention to a section of the doorframe below where he was knocking. There are four equally spaced scratches across the frame. A bloodied fingernail is embedded within.


Reed: What was that you said about a break-in?


Krogulski swears, grabbing his radio. The feed jerks down as Reed disengages his holster, readying his weapon.


Krogulski: One-two-nine. One-two-nine. We have a one-three-three at Caldwell residence.


Dispatcher: Copy one-three-three. White and O’Malley are on their way, ETA 5 minutes. Proceed with caution.


Krogulski readies his weapon, holding it in a low-ready stance. The door creaks as he pushes it open further. The pair carefully advance. Though some light spills in from the door, little can be seen on the feed. Reed tries the light switch, producing no results. They activate their torches.


The living room is in a mostly pristine state besides a tall floor lamp which lay on its side, its bulb shattered. Several long rows of scratch marks on the hardwood floor lead from the front door towards an adjoining kitchen, indicating someone had resisted being dragged off.


Reed: Jesus Chr—


Krogulski shushes him, taking point to follow the trail towards the kitchen. From their perspective, the refrigerator can be seen. The top half, the freezer, sits wide open. Aside from the foodstuffs within, a torn plastic bag coated with a black substance can be sighted. The substance trails down the front of the refrigerator.


A dull thud is heard in one of the rooms ahead.


As they slowly advance, Reed turns his focus to the walls, which are covered in an irregular trail of pock-marks that criss-cross up and down the wall and onto the ceiling. The scratches end where the floor transitions to tile. Krogulski rounds the corner first and recoils at the sight of something off-camera. Coming to stand beside his partner, Reed enters the kitchen.


The cabinets and walls are spattered with blood, a pool of which seeps across the floor in a rank puddle. At its center lies the severed head of an elderly man. Tattered, serrated flesh lines the stump of the neck. Unstaring eyes glisten against the officers’ flashlights. Krogulski gags. Reed curses under his breath and takes a step forward. His torchlight comes to focus on a trail of barefoot tracks, trailing blood into the next room.


A dull thud is heard in the room beyond the head.


Carefully stepping forward, Krogulski moves ahead, circumventing the crime scene to the best of his ability. He steps gingerly over the pastor's head, avoiding the slick pool. Reed follows closely.


A third thud echoes in the silence of the house.


Krogulski carefully shoulders up to the corner, peeking into the room beyond. He looks back to Reed, silently signaling with a sideways nod. In one rapid motion, he wheels around the corner and into the next room, bringing up his weapon, ready to fire.


Krogulski: [shouting] Get on the ground! Hands where I can see them!


Reed quickens his pace and enters the room beside Krogulski. They’re in a spacious den occupied by sparse furniture. A small foyer on the opposite end leads to the back door, where an individual is sighted, facing away. Its body is heavyset, dressed in a simple white robe drenched in blood from the neck down. Long, billowing black hair sways back and forth as the entity shakily rears back, before lurching slowly forward and banging its head on the door, making a dull thud.


Reed: Hands up!


Krogulski: Get down on the ground!


With its back still towards the officers, the head turns to face them. Its eyes are closed. Its mouth is agape. It gurgles. A single globule of black fluid leaks from the side of its lip down to its chin. Reed screams, dropping his weapon in shock as he takes a step backward.


Krogulski: What the fuck!?! Hands on your—


The entity takes a clumsy backward step toward the pair. It gurgles again.


Krogulski immediately opens fire. Three rapid flashes of his firearm illuminate the room, momentarily washing out the feed. The body pauses stunned for a moment, having been struck center-mass with all three shots. It falls first to its knees, and then to the ground. Flowing black hair comes to rest all about and around it.


Aside from Reed’s hyperventilating, the room falls silent. Krogulski holds his position, firearm trained on the entity. His hands are visibly shaking.


Reed: Christ, what… how are we gonna call this in? T-the hell is… he? It?


Krogulski: We’ll figure it out when the guys arrive. Should be here any second.


Krogulski side-eyes the stunned Reed.


Krogulski: Grab your damn gun, kid.


The feed dips as Reed stoops down. As he kneels, the body’s face can be seen in the background. It is as Reed’s hand grasps his weapon’s grip that there is a gurgle. Eyes open into pools of milky white.


Reed: Wh—


Reed freezes. From this low perspective, a slight bulge can be seen pressing from beneath the skin on the entity’s neck. There is a splitting of flesh, a clean line of separation that opens laterally along the neck's circumference. A knuckle comes into focus, wrenching an index finger from the exposed musculature. The finger’s nail finds purchase in the stump of the neck, using newfound leverage to push.


With trembling hands, Krogulski opens fire. Each shot fails to meet its mark as the sound of rending flesh overtakes Reed’s heavy breathing. All the while, the head gurgles.


A second. A third. Fingers claw and writhe from the stump of the neck, pushing and separating themselves from the body with a sickening squelch, revealing hands whose wrists are embedded within the head. Krogulski swears loudly.


Four more shots. Krogulski takes a back step with each blast. Reed at last comes to a stand. With a steady hand, he aims at the head. Now freed of the body, it stands on ten fingers, silently regarding the officers. The fingers compress, preparing to leap. Reed pulls the trigger.


In the frames obscured by the muzzle flash, the head leaps, striking Krogulski’s neck with open palms that rapidly snap shut. Krogulski stumbles and chokes as he wrestles with the head, grabbing a handful of flowing black hair with a free hand while butting it with his pistol. Tendrils of black hair snake around the wrist of his free hand as Krogulski’s face reddens, eyes bulging. Reed screams, absconding from the den and towards the kitchen. Behind him can be heard a wet crunch and a dull thud.


Darting through the darkened kitchen, Reed slips, falling face-first into the puddle of blood left by the first victim. The camera is rendered unusable after contact with the ground. Through the audio, there comes the sound of fingernails clicking rapidly on tile. Reed weeps. He groans. The clicking stops, being quickly replaced by Reed’s choking and sounds of struggle. There is a loud, wet tearing.


Dripping.


Silence.


After a moment, there are some muffled sounds of movement and ruffling of clothes. A distant police siren is heard rapidly approaching.


Then the sound of footsteps in a slow, ambling gait.


---------


Backup officers White and O’Malley arrive at the scene. Despite their shock upon discovering the carnage, they are able to handcuff and subdue the docile entity. Our forces were then able to recover the anomaly and process witnesses.


A thorough investigation into the home of Father Caldwell during cleanup revealed the presence of several locks of hair stowed in a locked box beneath his bed. Each was genetically matched to missing persons from the surrounding counties — all victimized by a murderer known to the public as the ‘Horseman Butcher’. The killer’s moniker had come from his habit of removing the heads and hands of disposed victims to obfuscate identification.


It was discovered that the pieces of Mrs. Westfield had been kept wrapped in plastic in Caldwell's freezer. It is currently unknown what triggered their reanimation. Investigation ongoing.



Sources:

S D Locke


Mr. Illustrated

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