“Aren’t you going to invite me in?” purred the voluptuous blonde woman standing just outside the doorway of a modest, secluded home.

Stuart couldn’t believe his luck. He had just stopped by a local bar to have one drink and he somehow caught the eye of the most beautiful woman that he had seen in years. After hours of talking, laughing and drinking, this bombshell wanted to come back to his house.

“Come on Stu”, came the incredibly sexy voice. “I don’t want to come in unless I’m invited.”

“M’Lady, please enter and be welcome in my home”, Stuart replied as he playfully adopted a courtly medieval tone.

Those words were immediately cut off by the sound of barking and growling as a black Lab came barreling down the hallway straight towards the woman in the doorway.

“I don’t know what has gotten into him”, Stuart complained as he grabbed his dog by the collar. “Midnight is a really friendly dog most of the time.  Give me a second and I’ll put him in the basement.”

After about ten minutes, Stuart returned to find his lovely new friend looking at pictures in his living room. “Sorry about the barking.  I hope that it didn’t break the mood.  Where were we?” Stuart said as he held open his arms for a hug.

“We were nowhere, you stupid git”, came the deep, Scottish-accented voice of a man out of the mouth of the petite young woman.

“Gillian…. How did you do that?”

“I’m not Gillian, you blasted moron.” Came the laughing reply. “I’m Ewan MacKenzie and now your home is MY home.”

Stuart watched in horror as the soft, sexy woman that he was kissing just a little while earlier began to grow and change. Her summer dress was cast aside as the five foot tall woman morphed into a hulking man with a big, bushy beard. That man, now naked, quickly grabbed a plaid throw blanket off of the couch and wrapped it around his waist.

“It’s not a proper kilt”, said the huge man, “but it’ll do. What have you got to eat?  I’m starving.”

Ewan pushed past Stuart and began rummaging around in the kitchen.

“This is impossible”, Stuart stammered. “Who are you?  WHAT are you?”

“I already told you who I am.  As for what, pick a name that you like. Skin switcher. Shape changer. Doppelgänger. It’s all the same thing. By the way, you need more meat.”

Ewan cobbled together a sandwich out of a pile of cold cuts and a bulky roll and began devouring it.

Stuart mustered up some courage. “Get the hell out of my house RIGHT NOW”, he demanded.

“You invited me in and now I get to stay. That’s how it works.” Ewan replied. “I’m not even planning on killing you.  I need you around to fetch me things.”

Bravery turned to foolishness as Stuart lunged for a kitchen knife. He was casually knocked aside by the kilted near-giant and easily wrestled to the floor.

“THAT was a mistake”, said the menacing Scot.  “Now I’ve got to take care of you.”

There was no dodging the fist that connected with his face.  Stuart saw a bright flash of light and then darkness.

———

When Stuart came to, he could barely make out the fact that he was in his own basement. He was crammed, fetal position, into his dog’s crate.  There was no sign of his canine companion. Stuart’s hands and feet were bound by a great amount of duct tape. The door of the crate was lashed with rope. It was a sturdy crate and Stuart wasn’t going anywhere.

The lights to the basement flared to life at the same time the stairs groaned under Ewan’s weight. MacKenzie was so hairy that he was almost bear-like…especially when he hunched over a little to avoid hitting the basement beams.

“I thought that you might like something to eat”, Ewan chuckled as he held forth a tray piled with sizzling meat. “Here you go. I’m sure that you can manage to eat even tied up.”

“Where did you get all of this food?”, Stuart asked, fearing the worst.

“Your damned poochie didn’t like me. Well I didn’t like him either. Now he’s my supper. OUR supper.” Came the taunting reply.

“Damn you to HELL!!!”, Stuart shouted. “I’ll KILL you for this!”

“Ye tried that already and look where it got you. I’d have been just as happy to let you shop for me. But you made me fend for myself and this is what happened.”

“Well, I can tell that you aren’t interested”, Ewan continued. “Makes no difference to me. You can starve or you can eat what I give you.”

Without saying another word, the giant man lumbered back upstairs, leaving poor Stuart to deal with his fury and grief.

———

Stuart was awakened by the banging of metal. Cracking his eyes open he saw himself thumping the cage. Not from the inside. As if looking in some perverse mirror, the middle-aged man saw that the creature had assumed his own likeness and was banging on the bars to wake him up.

“Guess who’s coming over?” Stuart’s double asked. “Your mama’s worried about you. Hasn’t heard from you in a few days. She called just now. I told her that you were sick and I begged her to come over and bring some food. She said that she’d be over bright and early in the morning.”

Stuart moaned.  This was a nightmare. First his dog and now… his mother was going to be next. What was this maniac going to do to her? Stuart couldn’t even imagine.

“Anyways, I’m not going to stay. Just wanted to give you something to think about.” Ewan’s twisted version of Stuart mocked. “Oh, and your boss called wanting to know why you missed work.  I told him to sod off.” With that final joke, Ewan left Stuart alone once again.

This time, there was no slumping in defeat for Stuart.  He had to save his mother. With frantic intensity Stuart worked on cutting through the tape with the only thing he had.  His teeth. Minutes rolled into hours, but finally Stuart managed to free his hands. Stuart then worked at the knotted rope holding the dog’s crate door closed. The knots were incredibly tight and he was running out of time.

Stuart couldn’t untie the knots. He had to think of something else. Scanning the room quickly, he noticed a lot of things that would do him no good, except for one item that gave him an idea.

Ewan must have been back in his Scottish form, because Stuart could hear his snoring. That was good though. He could easily tell that the creature was asleep. Stuart took his opportunity to throw his weight against one side of the cage. With a clang it rolled over ninety degrees. Stuart waited to make sure that the snoring continued and repeated the maneuver. On the third time he rolled the crate, a simple broom slipped from the place where it was propped against the wall and landed up against the bars.

Using all of the control he could muster, Stuart guided the broom, bristle-end first into the bottom of the nearby hot water heater. He shoved it in as far as he could and waited. After a minute, Stuart could smell burning as the water heater’s pilot light ignited the broom. Stuart drew the broom back as carefully as he could to keep it lit. After what seemed like an eternity, the smoking broom head was close enough to him to breathe life into the tiny tongue of flame. Once it was burning well enough, Stuart held the fire underneath the rope, allowing it to slowly burn through. Even that short five minute wait was agonizing. The sky was getting lighter and morning was around the corner.

Once the rope burned through, Stuart flipped up the latch and opened the door of the cage. His legs and arms were almost useless due to his two days as a prisoner, but that didn’t prevent Stuart from shuffling across the basement, reaching up to the fire alarm and yanking out its battery. It was a miracle that the beast had not already heard the sounds and smells of Stuart’s escape.

The middle-aged man, stopped for a second to get his bearings and to work more life into his arms and legs. Snoring could still be heard from upstairs and the smell of smoke lingered all around him. Stuart wasn’t a brave man. There was no way that he could risk taking on the shape changer by himself. This time, Stuart knew that he would be killed and his mother would be next. Getting help wasn’t an option either. Stuart didn’t have his phone or wallet. Even if he did walk over to visit his distant neighbors, would they ever believe him if he told the truth? As for the cops, there’s no doubt that Mackenzie would assume his own form if cops showed up and since his phone and wallet were in the hands of the monster, there’s no way he could prove that he was the real Stuart.

He needed to drive the creature out of his home, but not face to face. It was going to take something more extreme than that. Stuart crept up the basement stairs as quietly as he could. Luckily, the still-sleeping MacKenzie on the second floor. This gave Stuart the opportunity that he needed. He carefully grabbed a lighter and proceeded to light all of the curtains on the main floor on fire. When the rooms were fully ablaze, Stuart raced outside, got behind the wheel of his car, maneuvered it to a spot right in front of his front door and waited.

As soon as the front door opened, Stuart floored the gas petal. His SUV lept forward, catching the bearded monster right as he was coming out. The force of the impact knocked MacKenzie back into the house.

“You son of a bitch!”, MacKenzie roared. “I’m going ta MURDER you!”

But the huge SUV affectively blocked the front door and the creature was trapped in a burning house. There was no easy way for him to get out, much less murder anyone.  Stuart wasn’t taking any chances though.  He jumped out of his car and hid in a line of trees next door where he could watch his home burn to the ground.

Just before the fire was at its peak, Stuart heard a huge crash of glass accompanied by an inhuman howl of rage. Was it possible that MacKenzie got away? It was still just barely dawn, but Stuart swore that he saw a limping figure disappear into the fading darkness.

———

Maggie Collins heard a knock on her door as she was getting her kids ready for school. He had just heard sirens going down the street though, so she figured she’d better answer the door, even though it was early, in case it was the police.

The door opened revealing an elderly woman, wrapped in a singed plaid blanket.

“I’m sorry to bother you”, the old woman said in a frail voice. “My name is Martha. I was visiting my son down the street and his house caught fire.  It was horrible. Could I please come in out of the cold until Stuart arrives to pick me up?” The elderly woman broke down in tears and began to cry.

“Yes, of course you can.”, Maggie replied. “Please come in and I’ll get you some tea.”

“Thank you so much for the invitation.” The old woman said as she entered with a voice that progressed from old and female to male and baritone. “You have a beautiful home and Oh! You have children. How lovely…”

— © 2017 Patrick Wilcox
From Life In A Kilt Podcast‘s “Kilt Of Horrors 2017”

Kilt Of Horrors 2017

by Life In A Kilt Podcast